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Bali Belly: Here's What You Need to Know

No one wants to spend their Bali holiday with an upset stomach or rushing to the bathroom. However, travel sickness can affect anyone visiting the island nation and throw carefully planned itineraries into chaos. Stomach cramps, vomiting, and traveller's diarrhoea are all known as Bali Belly, which can leave you feeling too unwell to venture further than your Bali accommodation bathroom.

The good news is that Bali Belly is treatable and typically clears up within 24 hours. Although, keep in mind that sometimes it can take a few days to feel like yourself again.

What is Bali Belly?

Travellers to Bali can often be affected by what is known as 'Bali Belly', which is essentially an upset stomach or traveller's diarrhoea. Often it's caught within the first week of your holiday as your body adjusts to a new environment with new foods and different bacteria. Although Bali Belly usually clears up within a few days, particularly serious cases can result in severe dehydration that requires hospitalisation.

The bacteria that cause Bali Belly can be contagious, making it transmissible from person to person. If you're travelling with someone who is unwell, be sure to wash your hands thoroughly and regularly and avoid sharing food or drinks.

What Causes Bali Belly?

Bali Belly can be caused by bacteria found in local foods or drinking water, although it is most commonly caused by an increase in exotic foods, too much food and an increase in alcohol consumption. The most common bacteria which causes Bali Belly is E. Coli.

While it's very tempting to live like a local for the most authentic holiday experience, visitors do not have the same immunity as locals and certain practices are likely to leave you sick. Therefore, try to avoid drinking tap water or consuming food rinsed in tap water or prepared by someone who has not washed their hands.

What Are the Symptoms of Bali Belly?

Symptoms of Bali Belly generally include:

  • Abdominal bloating, cramps and pain
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Urgency/frequency in going to the toilet
  • Loose or watery stool (diarrhoea)
  • Mild temperature and fever
  • General malaise (weakness or discomfort)
  • Loss of appetite

How To Stay Well While In Bali

Bali is renowned as a wellness destination, with many visitors seeking a holistic experience while on holiday. Bali's famous wellness retreats are nestled amid lush rainforests and along tranquil beaches, blending traditional Balinese healing practices, yoga, meditation, and spa treatments to create a harmonious balance for rejuvenation.

Healthy eating is integral to the wellness journey in Bali, with an abundance of eateries offering organic, locally-sourced, and nutrient-rich foods. From vegan cafes to seafood restaurants, there's a focus on fresh, wholesome ingredients that not only satisfy your appetite but also fuel your body optimally.

Bali offers a treasure trove of opportunities to nurture your mind, body and spirit along with your physical health. Here, you can attain a state of well-being that rejuvenates both physically and mentally, ensuring you stay well during your Bali holiday.

Feel Well With These Bali Holiday Packages

How to Avoid Getting Bali Belly

Moderating the changes you make to your diet and lifestyle, particularly in the first few days of your Bali holiday will help to minimise the risk of contracting Bali Belly. Personal hygiene is also an important factor, and hand washing should be done thoroughly, particularly after going to the toilet, handling money, and before you eat. As long as you are sensible about where you eat, what you eat, your water intake and personal hygiene, you should minimise your risk of getting Bali Belly.

In addition, to prevent Bali Belly and fully enjoy your Bali getaway, it's crucial to select safe food and drink options. Consuming bottled water and taking daily acidophilus tablets can help prevent you from contracting this gastrointestinal disorder.

As travel experts, we also recommend purchasing travel insurance before your trip. Doing so will be beneficial should you require any medical assistance or treatment.

Choosing Safe Food and Drinks

In order to minimise the risk of Bali Belly, stay away from tap water, raw or rare-cooked meats or fish, and buffet foods that have been unrefrigerated, exposed to the sun or touched by others. Instead, drink bottled water, request drinks without ice, and consume fully-cooked food.

Maintaining Personal Hygiene

Personal hygiene plays a critical role in preventing Bali Belly, as it helps reduce the transmission of bacteria that can lead to the illness. It's essential to frequently wash your hands, abstain from touching your face, and use hand sanitiser when soap and water are unavailable, especially when staying at busy Bali resorts during peak holiday periods.

Nurturing Your Diet

Introducing yourself to new foods while travelling should involve starting with small portions, avoiding spicy or greasy foods, and opting for familiar foods when possible. To ensure successful adaptation to a new diet while travelling in Bali, familiarise yourself with the local cuisine, experiment with new dishes, and take necessary precautions to ensure food safety when consuming food.

Bali Belly

What is the Treatment For Bali Belly?

If you do happen to contract Bali Belly, simply visit a doctor to receive an injection and some medication which should start to clear up the infection within 24 hours. Other ways of treating the condition include anti-diarrhoea medications such as Imodium and Loperamide and activated charcoal tablets which are available from most supermarkets.

It's important to remember that symptoms can vary from the time of infection, and the bug may last anywhere from a day to a couple of weeks. If your symptoms persist for more than a week, the infection may become contagious, so interactions with others should also be done carefully.

When to Seek Medical Assistance For Bali Belly

Prompt medical attention can help prevent complications and encourage a speedy recovery. Therefore, it might be a good idea to seek medical attention for Bali Belly if symptoms persist for more than a few days, if there is blood in the stool, or if there are signs of dehydration. During the doctor's visit, expect the practitioner to enquire about your symptoms, perform a physical exam, and potentially request tests such as a blood or stool sample.