The most common ailment of the tourist in Central or South America is traveler’s diaherra; about 50% of tourists to Central and South America suffer from this at one point or another. To prevent traveler’s diarrhea, drink bottled water, use a water filter, or iodine tablets. Most cases of travelers’ diarrhea are mild and do not require either antibiotics or antidiarrheal drugs. Adequate fluid intake is necessary. However, if diarrhea is severe or bloody, or if fever occurs with shaking chills, or if abdominal pain becomes marked, or if diarrhea persists for more than 72 hours, medical attention should be sought.
loperamide (Imodium) and ciprofloxacin (Cipro). Imodium decreases the frequency and amount of diarrhea but shouldn’t be used is you have feveror if there is blood in the diarrhea. Cipro is an antibiotic that kills the bacteria causing traveler’s diarrhea. Do not take either of these to prevent diarrhea; they are to be taken only as a treatment. Preganant women and people under 18 should not take cipro; you should also consult your physician about taking any medication if you are wary or have complicating medical concerns.
For your first aide kit, it can be a good idea to pack some an over-the counter decongestant, anti-itch oinment (to treat bug bites), anti-allergy medication, bandages, and other personal medications. Also, bringing along an over-the-counter pain medication (such as Ibuprofen, Asprin, or Tylenol) can help with both altitude sickness and other discomforts of traveling.