Belize Belly

I know this is not a topic many wish to discuss but the reality is that when you come to Belize you are likely to develop "Belize Belly". Also called "Bad Belly" by some of our local friends, it's basically a mild case of traveler's diarrhea. In most cases it is simply caused by the introduction of new microbes to your digestive system. Although Belize is still a developing country and has a tropical climate the hygiene standards are surprisingly good. In some instances, it is a case of tropical climate and street food not mixing well and in rare cases, well... food poisoning is a possibility anywhere unfortunately.

What can you do to lessen the severity of Belize Belly?
I would recommend resisting the temptation to try the local dishes at first. Avoid eating food from street vendors until you have adjusted and stick with familiar items from the grocery store for the first few weeks.

If you do end up chained to your bathroom? In most cases, it will clear up on it's own as your body adjusts. It is not advisable to treat Belize Belly with otc meds that bind you up however there are some things you can do to alleviate the symptoms.

If things get bad, stick with the B.R.A.T. diet (bananas, applesauce, rice, toast) and avoid foods high in fat, sugar, dairy and protein as these require the stomach to work harder to digest. Also, chamomile tea, ginger and peppermint are known for their soothing effect on the digestive system and are generally easy to find, even in Belize. Probiotics are a great defense as well since they increase the number of "good" bacteria in your gut.

It's very easy to become dehydrated quickly, especially in a warm, sunny climate. Stay hydrated with plenty of room temperature fluids. A great way to replace lost electrolytes is with coconut water, very easy to find in Belize. 

When to see a doctor? *According to the Mayo Clinic, you should seek medical treatment if you experience diarrhea consistently for 3 days without sign of improvement, you show signs of dehydration (excessive thirst, dry mouth, infrequent or no urination, severe weakness, lightheadedness, dark colored urine), you have severe abdominal pain, blood in stool or fever above 102F/39C but please, please use your own discretion and if you just don't feel right, go to a doctor right away.

With a little luck (and self-control) your belly can transition smoothly into life in Belize, leaving you free to explore, relax and enjoy your new surroundings. 

*Note: These recommendations are different for children.
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