I sometimes share e-mails under the tag “ask me anything“. I get a lot of very similar e-mails which means there are a lot of people out there thinking the same questions. Why not address them to everyone? You can search more like these by clicking that link above.
How do you avoid Delhi Belly? You don’t! Just kidding…
Delhi Belly, which is just a term for stomach issues in India, happens all over the world when traveling and eating foods you’re unfamiliar with. Most people expect to get sick a few times in India, Mexico, or Thailand.. and I am no exception. I have had serious food poisoning many times, two of which put me in the hospital (once in Goa and once on Ko Phi Phi).
street side hotdog on a small Thai island… ended up being okay :) it was the beef burger later that got me!
I wrote some tips on how to eat street food without getting sick so check that out as I’m not going to get into specific tips here.
I’m surprised how many e-mails I get from readers who are terrified of getting sick in India from the food or water, so much so that they aren’t sure they want to come at all. After the most recent one, I decided to address it on the blog because it’s really such a non-issue… but I can see why you’re worried. You might even be reading this because you’ve emailed and I’ve sent you this link.
Here are some of the ramblings I tell people who e-mail with concerns:
- You might not get sick at all! and if you do it’s not usually that big of a deal.
- If you get a sick belly in India, you probably don’t have a parasite or worm… you’re going to be on the toilet for a day until it goes away (which is why I always tell people don’t take stoppers unless you have to catch a train).
- You can brush your teeth with the water.. I have all over India for years.
- You obviously can’t drink the tap water, but you can have filtered instead of bottled. If you accidentally drink from the tap as I have many times, you might get sick but to be honest I haven’t been sick from the water here (yet). Granted, I take de-worming pills 2x a year… yes, kind of like the ones I give my dog. If you’re in India all year, you should take one when you leave. Just ask the chemist.
- Sometimes when you think it’s food poisoning, it’s really just some IBS because your stomach isn’t used to the food you’re eating: too greasy, too much ghee, too spicy, too sweet. It could be anything that your stomach disagrees with.
- I’ve had just of bad of food poisoning in the U.S. as I have India.
- Don’t just take random antibiotics if you’re going to be in India for six months, because you can’t take them each time you get sick. Find out what’s ailing you (aka get a stool sample tested) and take the correct antibiotic.
- If you’re in India a short time, then just take cipro or whatever the chemist has on hand.
- Want to know which drugs and other medical things I take? My travel first aid kit gives a full list.
- Want to know which vaccinations you need? Here are the immunizations I got for India.
- You can expect to get sick a couple of times on your trip, but it’s not as bad as people make it out to be and if it is, you can get an IV at the hospital and you’ll feel better in a few hours.
- If you have IBS, celiac dx, or other digestive issues- you will have to work harder to eat clean in India. There aren’t as many gluten-free options and if you have IBS it’ll probably kick into high gear… but at the same time switching to an Indian diet works for some people. I know travelers who have never felt healthier, while others suffered.
- It’s not just India… does that help? a little bit? I mean, you could get sick anywhere ;)
- If you’re really concerned and it’s troubling you a lot, then you should skip street food just to ease your mind. Don’t feel you “have” to eat street food to be cool like Anthony B., ha ha.
- Overall, getting a sick belly is the last thing to worry about in India! Enjoy!
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