What are effective antibiotics for traveler's diarrhoea, and how do doctors determine which antibiotic to prescribe?
In general, traveler's diarrhoea is self-limiting and most people will recover within 3-5 days with adequate hydration. For mild symptoms without high fever or blood in the stools, frequent oral fluid consumption is all that is required. At times, oral rehydration salt and anti-motility agent such as loperamide may be given by doctors to alleviate symptoms. Unless there is a real need, I would urge against the liberal use of antibiotics.
Although may be useful in some cases, antibiotics overuse may paradoxically worsen the diarrhoea and induce other problems such as drug rash, allergic reactions, and drug resistant bugs. Besides, antibiotics are useless against diarrhoea due to toxins and viral infection.
When indicated, one of the commonly prescribed oral antibiotic is cirpofloxacin which belongs to the fluoroquinolone family. Another antibiotic known as azithromycin may also be effective. All antibiotics are prescription-only items in Singapore and should be taken strictly according to your doctor's advice.
- Dr Quan
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