Food Poisoning in Thailand Cure it Yourself
Food poisoning in Thailand is a very common illness that affects everyone in Thailand not just tourists. Anyone who has lived in Thailand for a good period of time would have experienced at least a mild case. Typically symptoms include, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, cramping, diarrhea and it all happens very quickly within 48 hours of eating contaminated food.
Find out my quick Thailand cure to food poisoning
Depending on how your food was contaminated you can even experience high fever and chills, bloody stools, dehydration, your nervous system can break down and you can die from serious food poisoning in Thailand if your unlucky enough to meet with some nasty infected food. Symptoms sometimes only infect the one person even if a group of people ate the same infected food which makes it difficult to figure out what it was.
Back when i lived in L.A. they had this system where every restaurant had to put their quality score in the window so a good clean restaurant would be given an A by the department and they could put it on the window. OK so you never saw C letter restaurants but you would see some B's...you just wouldn't go in them. Thailand would do good to have the same system because i'm pretty sure most places would be graded C.
Causes of food poisoning in Thailand
There are maybe 250 known diseases that can be transmitted through food and that's just whats actually known, there are probably thousands of more diseases that we don't know about because the symptoms are so mild and we get over them so quickly no one cares to really look into them and certainly no one is going to see a doctor about them. Besides doctors don't need to check the kind of disease you get because the outcome and treatment is going to be the same anyway.
The known causes of food poisoning are normally put into two categories
- Infectious agents include viruses, bacteria, and parasites.
- Toxic agents include poisonous mushrooms, improperly prepared exotic foods (such as barracuda - ciguatera toxin), or pesticides on fruits and vegetables.
When you eat contaminated food you get sick, in western countries that have vigorous standards large fines and threats of closure sanitation and food preparation techniques are employed to reduce the risk of customers eating contaminated food. Thailand however has little to no such standards. In fact you can open a restaurant in most places in Thailand without a license to sell food, without ever having a visit from the health inspectors! This kind of lax standards is why food poisoning in Thailand is so common.
When you get food poisoning in Thailand it's most likely because food handlers do not wash their hands after using the bathroom or have infectious themselves that they pass to the food and you eat it. Food that hasn't been packaged properly or has been stored at the wrong temperature can also help food to become contaminated.
Don't think that just because you eat some food off a random side cart or some lady walking along the beach and your going to get sick. If they have kept the food properly wash their hands before preparing the food then it's likely as clean as some restaurants. On the flip side just because your eating food at a restaurant in Central Department Store don't think that's cleaner, I've seen the chefs there walk into the bathroom and walk out without ever washing their hands, in fact when I see Thai men use the bathroom it's rare they I'll ever see them wash their hands with soap so whether it's a large chain restaurant or a BBQ pork side-cart your just as likely to get sick.
How to cure food poisoning yourself in Thailand
The medical treatment for food poisoning is an IV drip in serious cases and dehydrating by drinking lots of water. If you see a doctor in Thailand for food poisoning in every single case he will ask you or either simply prescribe for you tablets that will stop the diarrhea. I personally recommend you not take this medication, it clogs you up and can cause serious cramping.
In 95% of cases you will not have to see a doctor unless your condition is absolutely serious and you'll know exactly when it's like that. So if your just simply vomiting and diarrhea lasting about a day then you can really take care of yourself at home by doing the following.
- Don't eat any food at all if you are nauseous and or vomiting but try to drink a lot of fluids.
- When you drink water make sure it's room temperature and only take small mouthfuls at regular intervals (a rush of water can actually make you vomit more)
- Don't drink any alcohol, caffeinated or sugary drinks. If you do feel like vomiting the best thing to drink is not water but room temperature Sprite from a can and a straw, this old timers remedy still works today.
- Once you can drink fluids without vomiting you should eat one tablet of CA-R-BON and start to try eating some solid food. Plain foods are best and in Thailand just white rice and chicken or rice soup with pork are the best things to eat. If you are not lactose intolerant then milk is OK to drink and will not affect or increase diarrhea.
If you live in Thailand it's inevitable that you are going to get food poisoning no mater what prevention you take, even the place you've been eating at safely for the past year can give you food poisoning.
You can buy CA-R-BON at most 7/11 stores it's 25 baht it's a natural remedy and actually works!! this is how it looks.
I get this every time I come to Thailand, and the worst case of foodposioning I had was my first time coming back to Thailand after being away for over 10 years. I got it from drinking tap water or ice at a Resturant and first started puking all colors imaginable for 3 hours, then air for an hour, and after that blood… Needless to say I ended up at the hospital that night, which happen to be on my birthday, so I had a nice little birthday party in the ICU and got a little cake I couldn’t eat too. So now I only drink Bottle water and no unfiltered ice. 🙂
Oh wow, I’m in Phuket and I’m in the same predicament. Been here about 8 days and I had a fitful nights sleep because my head was spinning like crazy and my stomach was cramping. Woke up feeling insanely nauseous and rushed to the bathroom to vomit. Today is also my birthday, guess I’ll be spending it drinking water and puking, uhhhh I feel so sick right now
Wow, same thing happened to me I was in Phuket last week ended up spending 4 hours In the bathroom and then constant trips the next day which also happened to be my birthday. In fact a week later and I’m still nursing an upset stomach and have to avoid thai food altogether. Hope you get better pal.
You do ok, Chris. Despite our not being on the same page about several issues of quality survival. Thank You.
The best for cure your stomach is by drink salt water. ^^
Hi. I’m sitting in my bed in Thailand right now after an all-night bout of vomiting and diarrhea. It sucks. I will take your advice not to eat and only sip water. Of course I was just bragging the other day to a friend about how I hadn’t gotten sick yet….
Day 2 in bangkok…woke up with the worst tummy cramps ever… Reading up on this problem I think I identified 2 or more culprits for this agony… Dried chillies, and ice and tap water…
Not puking, no shits, just very bad tummy cramps…
What should I do for this pain… It’s hectic, I wanna go home 🙁
i saw my doctor here in Australia and he said to take sb floractiv 60 cap same as travelan 1-2 daily .i was there for 3 weeks and never had a problem.i took 1 tablet daily.
hope this helps. regards comboyne.
my girl and i had just a bloody horrible night. she was vomizing ca. 20-30 times and i was
blessed with constant shitting…still have theurge to see the toilet after trying to rehydrate. small sips and so on. damn that was bad!!! i think it was the iced coffee which we had several tmes before.
i will burn down the whole kitchen!!! 🙂
I write this while lying in Chiang Mai Ram hospital with a severe case of food poisoning… I ate Tom Yum Goong at a popular restaurant in the Warorot market area on Chiang Mai… This is the thirst time I’ve had food poisoning in Thailand in as many years, so the author of this article is correct… No matter how careful you are, it will get you… My advice is to not mess around, go to a doctor at the first signs of poisoning… I went in seizures before I could get to the hospital this time…
Man I hope your feeling better.
OK, I am not vomiting , I have no pain and I’m mostly alright during the day. At night I have to run to the stool 4 or 5 times a night. The lack of sleep is about to do me in. I’m on my fourth day now. Been doing the bland food and lots of liquids. Is there any hope?
Go to the pharmacy and buy charcoal. Eat one tablet a day till it stops itll get better quick
Chris can you still get a Thai massage on the beach in samui or purket. someone said the government was going stop it???????? thanks in advance.
Yes still available.
Hi all… It’s my second day in phuket. Unfiltered ice did it to me. Cramps for 4-5 days so far and cerurring diarrhoea still ongoing… Tablets do stop diarrhoea but not for long…. Still diarrhoea is lesser each day. Hope this means I’m on the mend. Supposedly aftert2-3 days of continuous diarrhoea one is to check in a hospital or see a private English speaking doc. Wonder if my travel insurance covers food poisoning… I guess I will try to get through this without seeing anyone… Oh..Almost forgot… The hydrating solution makes u have more diarrhoea… As well as cramps relieving meds…
Did you try charcoal tablets 20 baht, they Always fix me up.
Thanks. Will give them a go
Just wondering what should I do after the doctor prescribed my with antibiotics with diarrhea. I’ve stopped diarrhea now but the antibiotics is giving me dizziness and vertigo. I’m finished the antibiotics for like 3 days now, i’m hoping that the dizziness and vertigo would go away. I’ve just got to chiang mai like 2 weeks ago, haven’t done ANYTHING yet cause I got sick shortly after I arrived and really would like to fix this ASAP 🙁 thanks
Like i keep saying…charcoal, antibiotics rarely work.
I’ve been home from Bangkok for 1 week now. We were in Bali, Hong Kong, China, back to Bali, all fine. Went to Bangkok, ate something…maybe it was the soup at a restaurant or ice in the fruit juices. Next day, my stomach was mildly upset but my stool was and still is diarrhea, which I call “releasing the deomns”.
We went back to Bali, then home to U.S.A. I felt okay for a day, but then sick again. No vomiting. It’s Thanksgiving weekend and I don’t feel sick enough to go to hospital. I’m 5 months pregnant and have 3 doctor appointments next week. I’ve been drinking Aloe Vera juice but that has not helped the issue.
Thanks to your suggestions, I’m now trying the All Health Active Charcoal that I have in my medicine cabinet from my Korean Herbalist. Hope that works.
Any other cures?
the charcoal works the best, let us know how it worked for you.
Hi, what’s thai for “charcoal?” Thanks!
It’s called CA-R-BON
The Thai word is “Thaan” but that could also mean charcoal for cooking.
Hello, this sounds what I have right now….had a slight upset stomach for a few days after eating street food in Bangkok and gradually got worse and worse (maybe fuelled by alcohol). Now I can’t eat or drink anything bar water without getting awful cramps and needing the toilet soon after. How long did this last for you? I have another two weeks in Thailand and I’m loosing the will. It’s been about 5 days now.
I’m in the same predicament Louise on day 5 how long did it last ?
Day 4 in banglok and got a fever like you could fry An egg on my head, embarrassing diarrhea and feel like poo! Only had the trots once though more fever and muscle aches…dodgy pad ti I think. If I need to see a doctors and
Hey there, thanks for this thread. I’ve had a pretty bad case of diarrhoea as well after coming here, though I’m not sure of the cause since I’ve had seafood and ice and what not. I wish I knew so I could avoid it though. And I’ve noticed this isnt the first time this happened, our last trip to thailand i had the same experience, except with intense vomiting. I’ll try the hydration thing. Thanks a lot.
Hi, my boyfriend is vomiting for all night due to a food poisoning..i have to go to the farmacy asking for which drug? Thank you!
You should try drink water until he stops vomiting, then eat CA-R-BON followed by some food. His stomach will hurt but after going to the toilet again in several hours he’ll feel better.
Hi, I have just got to pattaya and have had really bad stomach cramps coming at random points many times each day and diarrhea for 6 days now (dont know if it was ice from shakes or dodgey food)
Ive been on the charcoal tablets you reccomend for the last 4 days and as helped the diarrhea out alot but its the stomach cramps are not going away at all and tomorrow will be a week with them and its comply ruining our travels,
Any recomendations for this?
Thanks alot Callum
Dude you shouldn’t eat a lot of those tablets that’s why you’re getting the cramps stop eating the tablets now and drink lots of water you’ll be fine tommorrow.
I also take pri-biotic which help to diminish symptoms by getting good bacteria back in your system after it has been flushed out hard.
I have been in Thailand many times and other parts of the 3rd world. I have also been sick plenty of times
Here are some rules of thumb that will help you keep out of trouble.
1) You will, no matter how careful you are, get sick when you travel – not every time though 🙂 . There are hundreds of new bacterias and viruses your body is not used to.
2) Learn how to take care of your stomach: prebiotics, probotics (including yogurt), hydration, electrolytes. Don’t use imodium unless you have to travel.
3) Never trust the water. Never accept glasses of water or ice until you know the country, town, restaurant /hotel you are in is safe. Brush your teeth with bottled water. Take your own bottle of water (i buy 1.5l bottles from Family Mart) everywhere with you.
4) Eat where the middle class locals eat as much as you can. In Thailand eat where the bar-girls take their Farang.
5) Eat high turnover foods and avoid low turnover foods.
6) If you can’t see the kitchen, think twice. If it looks disgusting don’t eat there. But remember there is a difference between poor and dirty. A give away is dirty cleaning cloths.
7) Don’t eat salads or peeled fruit until you are sure the country /town/restaurant you are at is safe. Buy fibre supplement satchets to replace the fibre you will be missing. In Thailand ‘Fybogel’ is really good.
8)Just because you’ve been there 100 times doesn’t mean the ice is safe – never trust ice!
9) Don’t trust the spirits, until you really know the bar – especially in Indonesia. They are often local spirits put in the foreign bottle. Plenty of people die making that mistake.
10) Eat a mixture of Western and local food. If you only eat local food then the local gut flora will take over too quickly making you more prone to getting sick. Eat a balanced diet. Nasty gut flora will thrive if you eat too much fat or too much chilli.
You are going to get sick if you travel a lot but you will get a lot less sick if you are looking after your gut before, during and after your exposure to the new pathogens. You will also build up resistance over time – then you will get less sick less often.
Hope this helps 🙂
Ooh – i forgot
11) Don’t trust your own hands – you’ve been touching dirty door handles, toilets, pool tables, shop items, bar-girls, etc. Don’t touch anything you are going to eat – if you have to, fried chicken or corn cobs, then don’t eat the bit you touched. Don’t put your hands in or near your mouth. Wash your hands with soap and water – antibacterials help but are not as effective.
Chris you should edit your article, there is something wrong.
Milk during a food poison is absolutely not recommended!
Its a myth. Milk is fine to drink.
I just threw up all over Phuket airport after not puking for a good couple hours …. I had milk…. ughhhh I always use milk for an upset tummy cure at home :0(((
Some good info here I am glad I found the site through GOOG.
I got some food off a local at the market on Buakhao ST. The first night I ate it, Small Fish with the head cocked done 45 Degrees, Bokchoy, some long thin plant that I thought was dill but it did not taste or smell like dill, okra, and some white radish. Had half that night then put in my fridge. Next day late finished off the fish with most of the rest. Five hours later I am squirting. Stomach cramping and Squirting. No headache no vomit but cramping stomach and stay by the stool. It was good the first day but even in the fridge it got me on the second day.
Lying(writhing) in bed in London after Thailand and completely exhausted.
Can I buy activated charcoal here?
Left Thailand on Friday and it’s now Thursday 6 days of agony and watery stools. No puking but nausea from pain and toxins I guess.
Tried Imodium and codeine recommended by the doc here, clogged me up but made the cramp/pain 10x worse, stopped it and the watery butthole is back with a vengeance.
Start training in 3 days, can’t do it like this.
I always use the natural method at first because even in your country you don’t need a prescription for the charcoal and it’s dirt cheap! Second, the antibiotics give me cramps. If you don’t feel better 24 hours after eating one pill of the charcoal ok see a doctor. I wouldn’t recommend taking both the charcoal and antibiotics at the same.
Hi Chris, wish i had found u sooner. Day 4 and vomiting stopped but gastro continues. Did get antibiotics from the chemist…OMG, like a previous comment, vertigo and dizzy and only gastro only stopped for a short time. Getting worried as have only 2 days left before travel back home…..off to buy carbon tomorrow before calling a dr. Let u know how it goes!
None of the food cart vendors can wash their hands properly so you take a huge risk every timee you eat from one.
Note that the same vendor chopping the vegetables/serving the food, is the very same one handling the money. Most have a dirty rag they wipe their hands on and that’s it.
I wanted a massage and they looked like a guy. So i said shun luck dim. Thats English way to say it. Means i love pussy. But talking about food poisoning i have no glue. Try what others said earlier. Hope this helps.
Even if the food stall in Thailand was following the best western HAACP food handling standards, it would still be crawling with bacteria as the meat and other ingredients downstream are usually infected as they are kept unrefrigerated in the open air with flies on it. So the only solution I’ve found is don’t eat local food, only clean restaurants. I’ve lived in Thailand for 6 months and not got sick sticking to this, the few times I haven’t I got sick again.
Hi I’m in Thailand now been here for 6 weeks ! I am going to see the elephants today and have payed quite alotnof money (sanctuary elephants ) but I have been up all night with severe stomach cramps! I am exhausted !! I can’t miss the elephants as I leave tomorrow and have paid deposit ! Plus really want to go!! But reading this thread – I had a fruit smoothie yesterday from a Chiangmai temple, and then last night I had ice with my drinks from a bucket of ice given to me served from a small Thai restaurant ! Is there anything I can do to relive the constant ache just till I get back to my hotel tonigh ? Any help much appreciated !
Can anyone help me..?? I am in Thailand right now… Insomnia..,, little bit of diahhroea..,, dry throats (dehydration)..,, hungry but don’t feel like eating..,, heavy legs and no energy restless muscles… Did I catch up with food poison…??? I ate the food from the vendor/canteen during my lunch.. I was ok but suddenly felt kinda dizziness… Any home remedy..??
I am an old Thai with the same predicament…a bad case of diarrhea in as many years..have to go to the hospital after high fever sets in…did tried charcoal on the first day…but these germs are tough…the doc put me on anti-biotic and drips…and fever subsided in couple of hours…but watery stool still persisting on this fourth day while I am writing…hope for full recovery tomorrow…praying for those people who love this land of smile…..with loose shits…it is Kharma…you know
Thanks everybody. We’recommend in phuket on my daughters 18th birthday meant to be going out but darent leave the bathroom. She’s got it worse than me and think it might have been the mango smoothie from the beach bar with lots of ice . Hadn’t thought about that till I read this. Hotel owner has been fab and got us charcoal tablets first thing this morning. Still cramping but nothing moving so that’s better than last night. Hoping for a quick recovery need to be diving on Friday
Chris, I see ice delivered in those trucks to local bars and restaurants. I take ice in my beer here cuz I like my LEOs like that. I understand that ice is made with purified water so should I be concerned? What is your opinion of the ice issue? Do you take ice in Thailand? I’ve had food poisoning like 4 times in Thailand over 10 visits but tend to attribute it to certain dishes, mostly seafood (which I won’t eat here any longer).
I say drink it. Like all food, no matter how fancy the restaurant, all comes from the same dirty market.
Have had many times in Thailand, immodium only blocks you up you need to tackle the bacteria I always buy norfloxin in the pharmacy and take the carbon tablet works quick everytime oh and rehydration drinks.always clean your teeth with bottled water hope you all get better soon
Chris – thoughts on norfloxin?
How fast should the carbon work?
Before I read this, pharmacist recommended two tablets of carbon and to take it every 4-6 hours until better. Sounds like that’s not good advice? (Already took first dose of two, was desperate)
I find if i take too many starts to cramp.
Thanks for all the advice above, Chris. You are spot on about the symptoms. I just got over a wicked case of stomach pains, intense vomiting and diarrhea.
It started around 6:30AM yesterday morning for me while catching a van from Pai back to Chiang Mai – then a flight to Bangkok… it was the single most physically painful and awfully sick travel experience I have ever underwent (having traveled the world and been sick 2-other times over seas). The ride from Pai alone will make any normal person sick with it’s windy roads and over 1000 turns up and down steep mountain valleys. I must have thrown up at least 8-10 times in the van ride alone, another 2-3 times in the airport and then 3-times on the plane to Bangkok, and 1-2 more times in the car to my hotel… my throat felt like it was burned by chemical acid and my chest, lungs and kidneys where sore to the touch, as well as the rest of my entire body. My legs were cramping and my feet as well during my sleep.
Once in Bangkok I laid in bed the entire day and was unable to eat or drink, without seriously upsetting my tortured stomach. I am still 40-hours later recovering and finally put a little food and soup into my system.
On our way home from dinner tonight, my poor girlfriend started severely cramping while walking and is now going through the exact (if not worse for her) symptoms as I had all day yesterday into this morning.
The bloating of the stomach with gases is enough to keep you down. I was too weak to even open my eyes or speak at certain points during the illness period. Sunset (or any light) made me terribly nauseous along with the smell of food or anything that wasn’t pure oxygen!
I wish this upon nobody visiting Thailand but if it happens to you follow the steps listed above closely and seek medical IV if you become too weak to move, it could save your life and you never know what can happen when you are in a foreign country with not only english speaking people who can relate to your illness.
Just picked up a package of medical carbon from 7/11 – I was not blessed enough to have had this while I was sick but I am giving it to my girlfriend now as soon as she clears out her stomach and system is ready enough to ingest!
Hi ! After 2 days of being in Bangkok I had food poisoning so bad that i was timing myself and I was vomiting every 15 minutes on the dot ! I took so electrolytes and sipped water and ate watermelon for 2 days because my stomacj was sensitive. Now, a week and a half later, here I am, I woke up 2 days ago feeling really tired and as the hours went by I started developing chills, intense headache, fever, stiff neck and feeling very weak and tired. As the day went by I was getting better and because I did not eat all day and I was starving we decided to go eat and so I ate the most oily spring rolls I have ever had and a glassy noodle soup with tofu, my boyfriend and I felt nauseous all night but I felt worst since the next day after eating hummus at a restaurant i started feeling super bloated and nauseous, I am not able to vomit but I am extremely nauseous everytime I move and the liquid in my stomach moves, my stomach is making crazy noises even though I did not eat since 12pm and it is now 5am. I got some carbon capsules and the lady told me to take 4 then 3 before bed and 3 when i wake up. I did not sleep well at all and felt nauseous all night. I have been eating raw vegetables and maybe unfiltered ice .. I am traveling for another 5 months a d a half and it feels like i have been sick ever since i got here ( 2 weeks and a half ago). Can you give me any advice. I have been in Pai for the past week and a half. Thank you
Just returning to my bungalow on Koh Samui after a night in the hospital. I ate a shrimp dish the night before. I took a shower the next morning and immediately had cramping and diarrhea. I got some medicine over counter for the cramping. I figured the diarrhea would have to end everntually. I suffered through the day and night just staying in bed. The next morning I went to the hospital and they admitted me for the dehydration. I got an IV for fluids and antibiotics. I finally decided to just be admitted and my boyfriend stayed the night. They took blood and stool samples. It was positive for bacteria. I felt better by mid-day and was released. I have a host of medications for the abdominal pain, antibiotics to take for 5 days, anti vomiting, anti nausea. I’m on the mend but still diarrhea and cramping. I’ve heard from many people that takes a full 5 days to recover even with this level of treatment.
The most accurate article ever about food poisoning in Thailand, thank you so much.
Most Thai people don’t care about proper cleaning so, solution for me I have stopped eating food cooked by locals after suffering terrible year with food poisoning, except for places like well known restaurant chains i.e Subway, McDonald and also in restaurants run by expats who cook by themselves. Not to forget to mention canned food is good alternative.
Oh my God, I read all of your comments. My husband and I have spent 3 month in Thailand already (Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Pattaya) and just 4 days we got to Phuket and the second night we start having headaches and start feeling weak, just next day both of us woke up with this horrible tummy cramps, and diarrhea. Its been 2 days already and the doctor gave us antibiotics and some other shit. Its working but I am just thinking, I have never been in this situation and my husband is really picky to choose a place to eat. I am more wild to eat, but this happened in a real nice restaurant. We are now afraid to eat anywhere in Thailand. 🙁
Hi, I have been in Thailand for 2 and a half weeks. Since last Monday I have been I’ll. Firstly I thought it was heat stoke then I started throwing up and had diarrhea. I called the doctor on Saturday as it was getting worse conformed gastroenteritis. I have been given all sorts of tablets bu5 still can’t eat and my stoll is now bottle green, is this normal? Travelling home today so the plane journey back to UK is going to be interesting!
We are a family of 8 adults and 3 Children vacationing i Thailand, the 3rd day my nephew of 18 got the runs with vomiting cramps and massa, he got better after 36 hrs but then my youngest son 3,5 years started vomiting and diarré soon after my older 10 started vomiting. The morning after my sister got something and missed a day. Now it is my turn to be knocked out with runs and serious vomiting cramps and dizziness, tomorrow is New years eve and hopefully I can participate. As I am in bed shivering Ive read all the posts and there are someGood advice. I also Think the ice can be the guilty one so try to stay off it.
I have no idea what you guys are going on about. The food doesn’t give you Norovirus. You get Norovirus from someone who has Norovirus. It’s HIGHLY contagious.
In 3 years of coming to Thailand (total time in Thailand 12 months), I have eaten at Street food 40B noodle shops, food from walk streets, big market vendors, Big C & Central food courts and have NEVER got Norovirus.
I did get Norovirus back in America one time after i shared a joint with a guy who had it a day or two before. Yeah, it does suck, but its basically over in one day.
Well just enjoyed all your comments, it’s been a week of traveling with diarrhea, no vomiting, but it’s getting old specially after diving for 3 days, I’ll go try the carbon right now
Hi all , a old chinaman once told me if you get Sick overseas from food drink ginger tea and eat the same . Ginger works marvels for your system .