How to Prevent Bali Belly

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"Bali Belly" can quickly ruin your Indonesian adventure. Here are five things to watch out for to avoid it.

Avoid Travelers' Diarrhea in Indonesia.

Bali Belly, Delhi Belly, travelers' diarrhea, or Montezuma's revenge, whatever you call it, stomach illnesses are a sure way to ruin your vacation. The symptoms, including sweating, stomach gurgling, and a rushed trip to the toilet, are unpleasant and can quickly ruin your experience in Indonesia, a country filled with beauty but unfortunately also known for this type of illness.

What causes Bali Belly and how can it be avoided? In this article, we examine five common causes of stomach illnesses while traveling, ways to lower your risk of getting sick, and effective remedies for dealing with it.

What is Bali Belly?

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Bali Belly, also known as travelers' diarrhea, is an illness caused by consuming bacteria found in contaminated food and water. Symptoms of Bali Belly can include stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting, bloating, diarrhea, fever, fatigue, dizziness, dehydration, and loss of appetite. It is often contracted during the first week of travel as the body adjusts to new surroundings and new bacteria. 

While it can resolve on its own within a few days, severe cases may require hospitalization due to dehydration.

Is Bali Belly contagious? 

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Bali Belly is caused by bacteria, parasites, and viruses that can be transmitted through close contact with infected people, as well as through contaminated food and water. To prevent the spread of Bali Belly, it is important to practice good hygiene, such as washing your hands frequently and avoiding sharing food and drinks with others. 

If you are caring for someone with Bali Belly, be sure to follow these precautions to prevent the infection from spreading.

Travellers' diarrhoea is not only common in Bali, but also in other popular destinations in Southeast Asia such as Thailand, Vietnam, and Cambodia. In addition, Central and South America, the Middle East, and Africa also have high rates of travellers' diarrhoea. 

The UK Department of Health's TravelHealthPro website estimates that up to 20% of visitors to these higher-risk regions will experience travellers' diarrhoea during their trip. To prevent stomach illnesses like Bali Belly, it is important to take precautions wherever you travel.

What are The Common Causes of Bali Belly?

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Bali Belly, also known as travellers' diarrhoea, is often caused by consuming contaminated food or water. This can be the result of poor hygiene practices during food handling or preparation, or from drinking water that has not been treated or properly purified. 

Bali Belly can also be caused by a variety of bacteria, parasites, and viruses that are transmitted through close contact with infected people or through contaminated surfaces. 

To reduce the risk of developing Bali Belly, it is important to practice good hygiene, such as washing your hands frequently, and to be cautious about what you eat and drink while traveling.

- Contaminated food 

Contaminated food is a common cause of Bali Belly. Bacteria can thrive in the hot and humid environment of Bali, which can cause food to spoil more quickly than in other locations. Food can become contaminated through various methods, such as incorrect storage and refrigeration before cooking, improper preparation during cooking, not being kept at the right temperature after cooking, and being handled by an infected person. 

To reduce the risk of consuming contaminated food, it is recommended to avoid eating undercooked meat and seafood, street food from vendors that appear unclean, buffets from unfamiliar restaurants, peeled fruit, raw salads, and cold or lukewarm food that should be hot.

- Contaminated water 

Contaminated water is another common cause of Bali Belly. Tap water in Indonesia is not always of high quality, so it is advisable for travelers to only drink bottled water. 

To reduce the risk of consuming contaminated water, you should avoid using ice in drinks, eating foods that have been washed with tap water, using wet plates, cutlery, and glasses, brushing your teeth with tap water, and getting shower water in your mouth and eyes. While using bottled water is important for preventing Bali Belly, it also contributes to pollution in Bali. 

To minimize your environmental impact, you can use a personal filtration system to make contaminated water safe to drink, recycle your bottled water, or choose large bottles to reduce the number of bottles you need to use.

- Poor Hygiene

Poor hygiene can also lead to the contraction of Bali Belly. Bacteria that cause this illness can be transmitted from person to person through close contact. 

To reduce the risk of getting a stomach bug, it is important to practice good hygiene habits, such as washing your hands with sanitizer before eating and avoiding touching your face with unclean hands. Additionally, you should avoid sharing food and drinks with others.

- Change in Diet

A sudden change in diet can also cause an upset stomach. While trying new cuisines is one of the joys of traveling, it can sometimes be difficult for your stomach to adjust to unfamiliar flavors and food groups. 

To prevent an upset stomach, you can try easing into the local cuisine by choosing familiar foods, and limit your consumption of alcohol, as it can irritate the stomach lining. 

If you are not accustomed to spicy food, you can also try easing into local dishes that contain spicy ingredients, such as sambal, or you can request "tanpa sambal" (meaning "without sambal") when ordering your meal.

- Change in Environment

Traveling can be physically demanding and can weaken your immune system, especially as you adjust to new environments. In Bali, the hot and humid tropical climate, the change in time zone, and the stress and excitement of travel can all make your body more prone to illness. 

To adapt to the new environment, try to avoid strenuous activities when you first arrive, limit your alcohol intake and make sure to drink plenty of water, and gradually decrease your use of air conditioning indoors to allow your body to acclimatize.

How to Recover From Bali Belly


Bali Belly, also known as traveler's diarrhea, is a common ailment that affects travelers to certain parts of the world, including Bali. It is caused by consuming contaminated food or water and can cause symptoms such as diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and nausea. 

If you have been hit by a stomach bug, it is important to take care of your body in order to recover. Even though the idea of eating may not be appealing to you, it is important to replace the electrolytes you may have lost through diarrhea and vomiting. This is because electrolytes are essential for maintaining proper hydration and other bodily functions. 

To recover from Bali Belly, follow these steps:

- Stay hydrated: Drink plenty of fluids, such as water and electrolyte-rich beverages, to replace those lost due to diarrhea.

- Eat a bland diet: Stick to simple, easy-to-digest foods, such as rice, bananas, and boiled potatoes, until your symptoms improve.

- Avoid spicy and fatty foods: These types of foods can irritate your digestive system and make your symptoms worse.

- Consider taking over-the-counter medications: Antidiarrheal medications and acid-reducing drugs can help alleviate your symptoms.

- Seek medical attention if your symptoms persist: If you have severe diarrhea, are unable to keep fluids down, or have a high fever, it is important to seek medical attention as you may need additional treatment.

By following these steps, you can help your body recover from Bali Belly and get back to enjoying your travels.

Natural Treatments That May be Helpful

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In addition to medications that can reduce the symptoms of Bali Belly, some travelers have found success using natural remedies for both the treatment and prevention of stomach illnesses. 

MedicineNet, an online healthcare publication owned by WebMD, suggests the following natural remedies for easing the symptoms of stomach conditions like Bali Belly:

Heat pads for abdominal cramps, probiotics such as yogurt and Yakult, zinc supplements, and acupressure on pressure point P-6 on the inner wrist may be helpful in relieving symptoms

It is important to consult with a doctor to determine the most appropriate treatment for your Bali Belly.

Severe Types of Stomach Infections


The symptoms of Bali Belly usually go away within a week or so, but travelers may also get more serious stomach infections while traveling. These infections can be caused by bacteria like E. coli, Salmonella, and Shigella, viruses like rotaviruses, or parasites like Giardia. 

They can be contracted through eating undercooked foods like pork, beef, and fish, or by coming into contact with food that has been prepared by someone who has not washed their hands. To reduce the risk of getting these infections, be careful when eating out in Bali.

Other Ways to Stay Healthy in Bali

Bali has breathtaking mountain views, beautiful beaches, vibrant markets, and many activities to enjoy. To fully experience all that Bali has to offer, it's important to take care of your health. However, it's not just conditions like Bali Belly that travelers should be aware of.

- Ways to prevent COVID-19 in Indonesia

COVID-19 is present in Bali, so travelers should take steps to prevent infection. These include:

  • Wearing face masks and practicing physical distancing as required by Indonesian law (information can be found on the Indonesian Ministry of Tourism website)
  • Being cautious in crowded places
  • Washing and sanitizing your hands frequently.
  • Travel disruptions such as missed flights, cancelled events, booking extensions, and room relocations can be frustrating when on vacation. Make sure your travel insurance for Bali includes coverage for COVID-19.
- Preventing Dehydration and Heat Stroke in Bali

The Indonesian sun poses a significant risk in Bali, especially if you plan to spend a lot of your vacation outdoors. Heat stroke, sunstroke, and dehydration can occur unexpectedly and can quickly become serious medical emergencies. 

To prevent these conditions, it is important to: 
- avoid prolonged exposure to direct sunlight
- stay hydrated with water and electrolyte drinks
- wear light-colored and loose-fitting clothing
-frequently apply sunscreen and zinc
- allow yourself time to acclimate to the heat gradually (rather than going from the airplane to a full day at the beach)
- be cautious when exercising to avoid overexertion

The Benefits of Travel Insurance in Bali

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If you anticipate incurring medical expenses exceeding $2,000 or need to go to the hospital in Bali, it is important to contact Southern Cross Emergency Assistance as soon as possible at +64 9 359 1600. They can review your claim, provide emergency evacuation if necessary (subject to the terms and conditions of your policy), offer a payment guarantee to the hospital to avoid upfront payment, and keep your family informed of your situation.

Keep all receipts and doctor's notes, as they will be required when making a claim. If you need to visit a general practitioner for a minor medical issue, you do not need to contact Southern Cross Emergency Assistance. Instead, pay your account and then file a claim. Note that the information provided in this article is general and for informational purposes only and is not intended to be medical advice. Southern Cross Travel Insurance (SCTI) does not guarantee the accuracy, completeness, or timeliness of this information.

This article may contain links to websites owned or operated by third parties or references to third-party products or services. Southern Cross Travel Insurance (SCTI) is not responsible for and does not endorse the content or accuracy of any third-party website or the suitability or performance of any product or service. The inclusion of a link in this article does not imply endorsement by SCTI of the website or third-party product/service.

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