Will over-the-counter anti-diuretics delay recovery of traveler's diarrhea?
February 21, 2006 11:04 PM   Subscribe

Will over-the-counter anti-diuretics interfere with whatever my body is trying to do to fight off the nasty I ingested while down in Mexico?

I came back with a lovely case of Montezuma's Revenge as a nice souvenir, and I've been spending so much time in the facilities praying for death that it's almost completely debilitating. I'd like to be able to sleep for more than 15 or 20 minutes tonight.
posted by willnot to Health & Fitness (12 answers total)
Do you mean anti-diarrheals?
posted by gramcracker at 11:10 PM on February 21, 2006

OTC anti-diuretics? Weird. Never heard of them OTC.

Will over-the-counter anti-diuretics interfere with whatever my body is trying to do to fight off

Answer = Yes.

Well, not so much "interfere" as more like, "won't help; might make it worse by introducing a new problem."

You have a bacterial and/or viral infection. Take an antibiotic for the former; nothing you can do about the latter. Drink lots of Gatorade and ride it out.
posted by frogan at 11:16 PM on February 21, 2006

On preview, yeah, I think you mean an anti-diarrheals like Imodium. That might've helped a little at the beginning, but not now. Just ride it out.
posted by frogan at 11:18 PM on February 21, 2006

Response by poster: Yeah, I guess I meant Antidiarrheals. Sorry for the confusion.
posted by willnot at 11:22 PM on February 21, 2006

If you are sick because of a virus or something you've ingested, pooping and puking is your body's natural way of getting that bug out.

DO NOT take an antidiarrheal, unless you want to be sick for twice as long. Or unless you'd rather be face-first over the toilet instead of ass first.
posted by Brittanie at 11:56 PM on February 21, 2006

I highly recommend the utterly pretentious SmartWater - water with electrolytes - it's basically Gatorade without the flavor and color (which I hate).

A couple bottlefuls of that kicked my vomit bug a week or so ago. Or it helped.

Get a doctor to write you a prescription for Cipro or somesuch if it doesn't get better fast.

Feel better!
posted by anjamu at 12:01 AM on February 22, 2006

You probaby have what they refer to as parasites or amoebas in Mexico, which is essentially a bacterial infection. As has been mentioned above, it would be wise to get an antibiotic. Even if your symptoms improve, there is a good chance that the offending bacteria will continue to live in your stomach and cause occasional flareups of the same symptoms. If you really want to be sure to knock it out, you should give a...um...sample, which some lucky person at the lab will analyze to determine the exact type of infection you have. From there, your doctor will be able to prescribe the most effective antibiotic. In the meantime, try to choke down some Pedialyte, which has electrolytes like Gatorade but comes in a bottle that makes it look more like medicine, which somehow makes me think that it's better. Yeah, on second thought, maybe you should just drink whichever one of those makes you want to puke less. But staying hydrated is important and will help you to recover quickly.

Should this happen again on another trip to Mexico, it's so much easier to treat it while you're down there. Antibiotics are incredibly cheap and you don't need a prescription. You can walk into any farmacia and find employees who are really familiar with their local illness-causing bugs and which antibiotics work best. If you speak Spanish, you can explain your symptoms to them, but it's not necessary that you be able to do so. Gripping your stomach and giving them a pained, woeful look should suffice. They've seen this before.
posted by wetpaint at 1:14 AM on February 22, 2006

if you can take it, eating lots of very hot peppers will kill some stomach and intestinal bacteria....but the cure is often worse than the illness.
posted by stilgar at 6:43 AM on February 22, 2006

Amebiasis can get severe. You can have liver infiltration. It can also become asymptomatic where you are carrying the organism but not getting the symptoms. Diarrhea for a long time is potentially serious in that you lose electrolytes, especially potassium.
Number one, if this has been going on more than a couple of days, then you probably need an antimicrobial.
Number two, if this has been going on more than a couple of days you probably need to restore the electrolytes. The suggestions above are okay.
You said OTC antidiarrheals. Those can be any of several things. PeptoBismol is in the may help, can't hurt category. I don't think the bulk-providing antidiarrheals will help, but that's just a guess. With antimicrobials taking Imodium (loperamide) will be good for handling the symptoms along with the cause.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 6:46 AM on February 22, 2006

Best answer: When I asked my doctor the same question years ago, he strongly advised me to take Immodium. He said that the "get it out of your body" school of thought is seriously wrong -- having diarrhea does not make a bacterial or viral infection magically pass out of you. The real threat is dehydration, which Immodium will help stop.

Also, if this goes on for a few days, I think it's doctor time for you (if it isn't already). As noted, it's possible you have some sort of parasite that could get worse.
posted by Mid at 7:42 AM on February 22, 2006 [1 favorite]

After suffering from the same symptoms after my trip to Mexico, I say no immodium, yes to anything with electrolytes.

***Very important: go to the doctor or urgent care center immediately if you begin to feel very weak, dizzy, or are sick for more than 48 hours. You are getting dehydrated, and this can have serious, life-threatening consequences. Don't fool around. There are plenty of bad bugs in Mexico that can make you damn sick.

Take care - and let us know how you're doing.
posted by shifafa at 2:26 PM on February 22, 2006

Response by poster: Mid has it.

I did go to the doctor today and he recommended Imodium if symptoms persisted. He offered to write me a prescription for antibiotics if I wanted, but as of this afternoon, I seem to be out of the woods and neither of us thought it was really needed.

Thanks all.
posted by willnot at 6:39 PM on February 24, 2006

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