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Bali Belly: What Is It, and Things You Need To Know

Complete Guide On Bali Belly: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

Bali belly is a common yet severe travel sickness that can ruin all your planned itineraries and tie you to unpleasant bathroom visits. Yes, you heard me right! It will come up with nasty symptoms that will not allow you to leave your hotel room. 

To help you clear this, we have shared everything about Bali belly, including its causes, symptoms, treatment, and foods to take while suffering. So, without further ado, let’s dive into the details!

What Is Bali Belly?


Image Credit: Marjan Apostolovic, Shutterstock

In layman’s terms, Bali belly describes a typical traveler’s ailment involving gastrointestinal symptoms such as diarrhea, stomach cramps, nausea, and vomiting. 

You may have heard other names of this disease, like Montezuma’s Revenge or Delhi Belly. However, it is not exclusive to Bali but is a term used more broadly to refer to a type of traveler’s diarrhea that can occur when people visit the Southeast Asian region. 

The symptoms can vary from person to person, and the illness can last from a few days to a week, depending on the person’s condition. 

Read: Things To Do In Ubud

What Causes Bali Belly?

Viruses and bacteria are the primary reasons behind this Bali belly issue. However, parasites are also the culprit causing the ailment in some people. 

All these foreign elements can easily contaminate the local water and food, especially at locations lacking hygiene. If you consume contaminated items, you can suffer from this illness.

  • Bacterial Infections

Bacteria like Salmonella, Shigella, and E.coli are common culprits responsible for traveler’s diarrhea. These bacteria can contaminate both food and water items.

  • Viral Infections

Another common cause of Bali belly is viruses. Rotavirus or Norovirus can cause the ailment and is highly contagious. You can catch the viruses from contaminated food items or getting in contact with infected people. The symptoms can appear immediately after an hour of consuming the contaminated food items or take up to 48 hours to appear.

Besides, some travelers lack immunity, making them prone to catching such diseases easily. Traveling can become stressful for some people, so sudden changes in diet, time zone, and environment can contribute to this ailment.

What Are The Symptoms Of Bali Belly?

The symptoms may vary from person to person. Moreover, it will depend on whether you suffer from bacterial or viral infection. However, there are some common symptoms of the ailment.

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

How Long Does Bali Belly Last For?

The duration of the ailment can vary, depending on several factors like the cause of the illness, the immune system of the sufferer, the treatment course, etc. Here is a rough timeline for different cases:

  • Gentle Or Mild Cases

The symptoms of Bali belly can resolve within one or two days. There will be mild discomfort to the sufferer, accompanied by loose stools.

  • Moderate Cases

Regarding moderate cases, the person suffers from symptoms for three to five days. There can be abdominal cramps due to frequent diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting.

  • Severe Cases

Severe cases can last for a week or more. Travelers suffer from frequent watery diarrhea, severe pain and cramps with vomiting, and several other symptoms. Moreover, they are at higher risk of severe dehydration, making the case complex.

Now that you know the symptoms and the duration of the illness, let us talk about some treatment options and tips.

Read: The Best 10 Day Bali Itinerary For Your First Visit (+ Mistakes We Made, So You Don’t)

What Is The Treatment For Bali Belly?

The whole treatment of Bali belly revolves around offering supportive care for the visible symptoms. So, here are some essential treatment tips for some common symptoms of the illness.

Rehydrate with proper fluids

It is essential to stay hydrated when you’re suffering from Bali belly. You will lose a lot of water and electrolytes, so replacing the fluid lost in your body is necessary to avoid dehydration.

You can opt for fresh coconuts or Pocari Sweat to rehydrate your body. Fresh coconuts are readily available in the local markets. You can buy them from street vendors, stores, or restaurants in Bali. They are rich in electrolytes. However, they contain a lot of potassium, so limit your consumption to one to two coconuts daily.

Pocari Sweat is another great drink to rehydrate your body with electrolytes. It is similar to Gatorade and is available in all the regional stores. The best option to consume it while Bali belly is by mixing half a glass of Pocari Sweat with half a glass of water.

Never opt for high-sugar drinks like sodas, ginger ale, packaged juice, packaged juice, etc., as they will pull more water from your intestines, further escalating the diarrhea. However, if you are craving them, then you can consume them in small amounts and drink plenty of water with them.

Over-The-Counter Medication

You can go to the med store and ask for medication for diarrhea. These medications will help you get some relief from the symptoms quickly. It is available in almost all the pharmacies in Bali.

General Tips To Recover From The Bali Belly Quickly

  • Rest in a clean and cool room. Stay away from the sun.
  • Avoid indulging in any hectic activity.
  • Eat plain and bland foods like crackers, bread, rice, bananas, etc.
  • Avoid any consumption of alcohol for some time.

A healthy adult with a solid immune system can overcome this illness by drinking fluids and keeping the body hydrated. However, if the symptoms persist for over three days, it is time to see the doctor.

How To Avoid Getting Bali Belly?

Prevention is better than cure. Just follow the given tips to avoid the chance of catching this illness.

  • Make sure all the meat and seafood items are properly cooked. Also, avoid eating sushi, unpasteurized dairy products, sauces, buffets, and cold food.
  • Try to opt for drinking filtered or bottled water only. Ensure your tea, coffee, and juices are prepared in bottled water. Also, use the bottled water to brush your teeth to avoid getting it in your mouth.
  • Wash all the fruits and vegetables with filtered water before consuming them raw.
  • Wash your hands regularly and keep a sanitizer handy while exploring Bali.
  • Consume your drinks without ice. The ice can be prepared from contaminated water, so avoid it.
  • Never swim or take dips in waterfalls if you are suffering from Bali belly.
  • Opt for cholera vaccination before traveling to the region to further prevent this disease.

What To Do If Bali Belly Strikes?

If you start getting some symptoms of the illness, store some fluids to keep your body hydrated and avoid going through any hectic routine.

Keep a close eye on the fever and stool. If you experience high fever or bloody stools, then you should seek professional medical help. Here are some recommended clinics and hospitals.

In case of any emergency, you can contact 112 for general assistance and 118 to call an ambulance. If you have a local SIM, use 0361 with these numbers; if you have an international SIM, use +62 361 with these numbers. Make sure you type these codes before typing the emergency contact numbers.

What Can You Eat With Bali Belly?

It is best to stick to a bland and easy-to-digest diet when suffering through Bali belly. You can opt for plain crackers, bread toast, soups, porridge, bananas, and applesauce. Here are some local items that you can eat.

  • Nasi Putih: Plain rice is a staple in Balinese culture. You can order them at all the restaurants.
  • Bubur Ayam: It is a chicken porridge that is soothing and easy to digest for your stomach.
  • Sayur Urab: It is a mixed vegetable dish that is prepared by steaming or blanching them. However, make sure that vegetables are washed properly.
  • Herbal tea: You can opt for ginger or lemongrass tea, as both of them will offer a soothing effect on your stomach. Make sure you use bottled water to prepare the tea.
  • Fresh coconuts

Bali belly is a common travel illness, but it doesn’t have to ruin your vacation. By taking some simple precautions, you can greatly reduce your risk of getting sick with Bali belly.