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Building immunity in Europe - what's your take on my travel illnesses?

Building immunity in Europe - what's your take on my travel illnesses?

May 29th, 2007, 10:33 AM
Join Date: May 2004
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How's your gall bladder?
Kansan is offline  
May 29th, 2007, 10:33 AM
Join Date: May 2005
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I'm lactose intolerant...not very severe, though. But it happens to me at home, not only when travelling.
kenderina is offline  
May 29th, 2007, 10:35 AM
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If you get sick within 30 to 60 minutes of eating something, it has absolutely nothing to do with pathogens (virus, bacteria, etc.). They don't cause illness that quickly---more like 6 to 24 hours.

It is much more likely to be something like IBS, already suggested (which can have a strong stress component), or other chronic condition (lactose intolerance and celiac have been mentioned) that you resist at home but succomb to when traveling.

My mom had something like this and quit traveling. It was eventually diagnosesd as IBS. You need to take this up with your doctor. Good luck to you.
Nora_S is offline  
May 29th, 2007, 10:41 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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I am probably a fool for venturing any opinions on this thread - - while I am a physician, I do not see or treat any adult patients...

...but nothing about this story sounds like any infectius illness to me - - not bacterial, not viral, not parasitic or fungal. The symptoms are confined to the first 48-72 hours after traveling? and they begin within the first 12-24 hours of the trip's beginning (both domestic and international)?

I do think that it is allergic/gastrointestinal, and atypical at that. I might have expected some respiratory or skin symptoms, but it may be an unusual case of "exercise-induced allergy (anaphylaxis)" which is a strange illness that involves transient abnormalities in intestinal permeability, so that all kinds of food antigens can cross into the bloodstream during or immediately after periods of "stress" (typically vigorous exercise, but not confined to that, perhaps). With your history of "being allergic to everything" by skin testing, I think that the problem is related to the travel, not what you have eaten during the trip, or upon arrival. You might try eating essentially nothing for the 24 hours before/after the flight itself - - and maybe even "purge" yourself (not in the laxative sense) the 2-3 days before, by eating _only_ one thing (ideally that you had no reaction to, by skin test) - - for example, applesauce. I realize that this is an extreme suggestion, but you seem motivated to want to avoid/reduce the impact of these symptoms on your first few days in Ireland.

And I would receommend seeing a university-based gastroenterologist or allergist who has specific experience with food allergies.

Best wishes,

Rex Bickers, M.D.
Floyds Knobs, Indiana
rex is offline  
May 29th, 2007, 10:48 AM
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No one wants anyone to think they're illness is mental. BTDT big time. Wanted to bring up another possibility. There is such a thing as a "stomach migrane". My nephew has it. It's similar to what janisj said. When he gets overexcited he will have uncontrollable vomiting. He was here visiting and got excited going to see the Angels and had a box seat. Started vomited around 2am and knowing his hx., took him to the ER right away. He spent four days in the hosp while they tried to stop his vomiting-this hosp couldn't do it either. It just has to run it's course. Then he's completely fine and can consume eating these vast amounts of food (18yo). He takes a migrane medicine now everyday to avoid this; it took the docs a very long time to finally figure it out. Anyway, because this happens so much when you're traveling/excited, thought I'd throw that out there.
parisnewbie is offline  
May 29th, 2007, 10:53 AM
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You are unlikely to get a good medical opinion here. If we have members who are medically qualified, I am sure that they are wise enough not to attempt a diagnosis on the basis of your report here.

I am fairly sure that most medical practitioners would disapprove of the idea of carrying antibiotics "just in case".

Food hygiene standards in Ireland are fairly good (nothing is perfect); our doctors are generally good; pharmacists have limited rights to advise and very limited rights to dispense. We don't have too many exotic strains of bacteria here (except for a problem with MRSA -- "superbugs" -- in some of our hospitals).

Chances are that you will be fine, and if you are not, chances are that the worst that will happen is a couple of quite unpleasant days. And then you'll get over it, and be fine. Until you overdose on Guinness.
Padraig is offline  
May 29th, 2007, 10:58 AM
Join Date: Apr 2003
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When I travel anywhere outside my own country I get this a lot - I live in Europe (Dublin to be exact). I think it's just from the change in climate and surroundings. Two things that help enormously are taking acidophilus tablets (available from any health food shop) and eating live yoghurt when I get to the country I'm travelling to. Both seem to help my stomach "adjust" to new environments.

I can't imagine an antibiotic doing you any favours - I wouldn't recommend taking them indiscriminately.

Substituting unsweetened black tea or coke for water helps a good deal too - don't know why.

I hope you enjoy your time in Ireland and don't spend too much time in your doctor's waiting room!
ter2000 is offline  
May 29th, 2007, 11:02 AM
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I agree that migraine-type illnesses cause gastrointestinal symptoms, and are difficult to diagnose - - though this is a common problem that ends up in the pediatric gastroenterologist's clinic, when "all other explanations" have been excluded.

It is my understanding that jumper22 would have had a childhood history of something like this, and I don't know of a connection between travel (but "stress", maybe).

With a 7 month old baby, perhaps jumper22 is indeed a young adult, and with six prior trips on which this has occurred - - maybe it _does_ have its origins in her "pediatric" history.

Anyhow, I attach this link, which may be relevant, as I just stumbled across it...

rex is offline  
May 29th, 2007, 11:13 AM
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I have the exact same thing happening with me and I posted not too long ago before a trip to Amsterdam which I just got back from yesterday. I have diarreah and vomit,,,no appetite and if I don't drink enough water get dehydrated very quickly. The major response was to go to a doctor and try to stay calm. I did both and am now being worked up for irritable bowel syndrome which I am sure I have. He is positive it has nothing to do with a virus or bacteria since it has happened in many places US and abroad. I did get sick again in Amsterdam...ate very bland, tried to stay calm...I can't really control what my mind seems to be doing to my body. I am convinced it is stress induced by travel...even though I don't feel stress about travel and have nothing to stress about! It sounds like we may have the same thing.
monk21 is offline  
May 29th, 2007, 11:18 AM
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Agree that you need a new doctor - and a complete work-up. This does not sound like any sort of infecious disease. It sounds either like food allergies (which can affect you very quickly) or more likely IBS (given your long history). This can be treated - but antibiotics are NOT the answer.

And thre may well be an emotional component as well.

Find out what this is before you go or it could last the whole time you're there.
nytraveler is offline  
May 29th, 2007, 11:20 AM
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Rex, are you a pediatrician? Maybe that too personal, lol!
parisnewbie is offline  
May 29th, 2007, 12:01 PM
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Interesting that you don't get sick in Italy or Greece, where they predominantly use olive oil. Perhaps you are allergic to hydogenated vegetable oil (soybean oil)? My husband is, and reading your post immediately made me think of him. He gets the same syptoms after eating vegetable oil. Try avoiding fried foods unless you can verify it's fried in something like peanut, olive or canola oil. Soybean products are in A LOT of food and in food prep (believe me, I read every label at the store), and you'd be surprised how much better you feel when you avoid soybean oil.

I'd still visit a doctor, but try to avoid soybean oil, and see how you feel.
Best wishes.
LuvtheGators is offline  
May 29th, 2007, 03:25 PM
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I think you should find another M.D. Your doctor prescribed levaquin. Common side effects of levaquin are nausea, vomiting and diarhea. Obviously his Rx may compound your problems.

Levaquin is usually prescribed to treat bronchitis, pneumonia, sexually transmitted diseases, infections of the urinary tract and infections of the prostrate. I trust these are not what is ailing you.

There is another (possible) area of concern for a mother of a 7 month old baby. Levaquin should not be taken by nursing mothers as it can pass thru breast milk.

Since the Rx for levaquin has not fixed your problem, I'd toss it, and look elsewhere for a solution.
specs is offline  
May 29th, 2007, 04:00 PM
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Hi jumper22,

You said:

"RE: whether it's a physical or mental issue with me. Of course I'm sure anyone would say this, but it's NOT mental."

I hope you realize when other have said it's mental or stress that they are not judging or labelling you. However, I think its safe to say you are mentally stressed, this post, getting the anti-biotics are evicence of that.

I totally agree with all the posts suggesting you see a new doctor and get all the tests done. I would add that it might be beneficial to talk to the doctor about stress-relieving techniques, which can be as simple as taking some quiet time for yourself.
ShelliDawn is offline  
May 29th, 2007, 04:54 PM
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by "mental" no one is implying you are "nuts". You have very real physical symptoms. But what we're saying is those physical problems could be caused by stress or something else.

(I'd sure like to know what ailment(s) your doctor thinks he is treating w/ those antibiotics)
janisj is offline  
May 29th, 2007, 05:22 PM
Join Date: Aug 2006
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I think spaghetti with an raw egg sauce and a sandwich bought on a train cart both candidates for spoilage that causes food poisoning. Switzerland is also a country heavy on milk and dairy products. Do you eat from the hotel buffet table for breakfast? Maybe you shouldn't.

I agree with all the other posters who say you shouldn't be taking antibiotics as preventative medicine. What you probably should be doing is being more careful about what and where you eat.

And above all, do not eat airplane food or drink carbonated drinks in the air. Bring your own favorite easy to digest foods from home, drink plain water and get a new doctor.
fall06 is offline  
May 29th, 2007, 05:40 PM
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I read the lactose information, and certainly won't rule that out. I don't drink a glass of milk per say (I hate the taste) but other than that, yes, dairy is a regular part of my diet and I've never had issues. Side note: I did have gestational diabetes with my pregnancy which puts me at greater risk in the future re: blood sugar issues I suppose.

No, have never had my gallbladder checked.

While it's pleasant to hear that people may believe my sickness could stem from over-excitement, that's not it. While I do look forward to our travels, of course, I'm not that "excited" about our trips (perhaps I should be ashamed, LOL). We are wealthy and can pretty much go somewhere anywhere anytime, so it's pretty "standard procedure" to do trips like this. Not that it takes the thrill out of it, of course

Rex, I am so intrigued by your response. It makes the most sense to me, absolutely. First of all, I am so accustomed to the word "atypical" when it comes to health issues, so that would be no surprise. My allergist (I just visited an allergist for the first time ever, and I am 34 , back in January) used the word "astounded" when he saw my prick test results. He was incredulous at how I nonchalantly discussed my issues at our initial consult when it came back with results like that. It's a shame I can't address your theory before we leave, since we depart for Dublin on Thursday. Based on your response, however, I plan on revisiting the whole food-allergy concept when I get back (also important since I have an infant, and his dad has food allergies too), and can only hope that I will do well during our stay in Ireland. I may even do the "purge" thing before we leave from this point out. If it helps, it’s worth it.

I felt it was interesting that I didn't get sick whatsoever in Italy and Greece, too. So of course now I am a huge fan of that region. I would think I get plenty of hydrogenated oils in the US when eating out, however.

My gastroenterologist prescribed me the first antibiotic for the Swiss/German trip during a personal visit when I was there for the c-diff (with probiotics, of course). It wasn't Levaquin, it may have been Amoxycillin I think. My regular doc, whom I rarely see (but perhaps my name would have “pull”, not sure), simply called in the Levaquin for me for Greece 2 weeks ago, so I have never even taken it. Thanks for the tip. Also, I am no longer breastfeeding, so no issues.

I hear you re: IBS. I know it can be a really random, as well as “ruled everything else out” diagnosis. I got the whole “it’s IBS” diagnosis for 2 years being misdiagnosed with a huge kidney stone (atypical symptoms), so I know all about it.

The migraine/stomach thing doesn’t make much sense to me, at least not in my specific case.

I hear you re: that it's stress, but all I can say is that I'm 100% it's not. My husband laughed when I mentioned the stress theory. I try to have “The Good Life” mentality in everything I do. I’m moving for 3 months with an infant this Thursday, yet tomorrow I’ll be at the pool with him to enjoy the day, because I’m very organized and everything is done. I realize stress & anxiety is an epidemic in America (at least IMO) but I refuse to be part of it. It would be like saying that if I posted a thread "How do I avoid getting lost in Charles de Gaulle?" and saying I was stressed about it. No, I'm simply fishing for opinions here since there is a wealth of knowledge here among experienced travelers, and as they say, knowledge is power (i.e. for me it AVOIDS stress). Do I want to get sick in Ireland? Of course not, hence my post. And if I do, I'll make the best of it like always. Stress is flying to Greece without my son for the first time. Stress is finding a housesitter in Nashville while we’re on our almost 3-month stay in Ireland. Visiting fun countries in Europe at my leisure is not stressful in any way for me. I should be so lucky.

Thanks all for your responses! It has been extremely interesting and I will consider all these opinions for future reference. But hopefully I won’t continue to be sick anymore, I keep hoping this recent successful trip to Greece was a change in the tides
jumper22 is offline  
May 29th, 2007, 06:16 PM
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I really empathize with your problem. I've been traveling my whole life, all over the world, and have had several bouts of food poisoning, especially in tropical climates, as well as bouts of IBS. I've become extremely vigilant about what I eat, sometimes foregoing all raw vegetables, salads, fruits while traveling.

I also consult regularly with a travel specialist in NYC, and his office is often my first stop after returning from a overseas trip, so that I can rule out bacterial infection before consulting with a gasteroenteroligist.

I've also recently learned that I have low gamma globulin levels, which according to some of the specialists I see, make me more susceptible to these kinds of stomach issues.

I wish you good luck in finding the right doctors. I certainly understand how you feel!

Weadles is offline  
May 29th, 2007, 06:44 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 541
I understand taking antibiotics will suppress your immune system, as will stress.
Perhaps you could try something which would stimulate it instead.
zippo is offline  

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