Bali is a popular tourist destination known for its stunning beaches, cultural heritage, and vibrant nightlife. However, many travellers to the island often fall victim to a common ailment known as “Bali Belly.” But what is it? In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the causes, symptoms, and ways to avoid this uncomfortable condition.

Key Takeaways:

Definition: Bali Belly refers to digestive issues like diarrhea, stomach cramps, and nausea due to contaminated food or water.
Symptoms: Include stomach cramps, vomiting, diarrhea, nausea, and fever.
Causes: Mainly from street food and untreated tap water.
Prevention: Wash hands frequently, eat well-cooked food, drink bottled or treated water, and avoid street food.
Treatment: Rest, stay hydrated, use over-the-counter medications, and consult a doctor if necessary.
Duration: Typically resolves within 24 hours, but can take a few days to fully recover.

Nearby Amenities for Treatment in Bali

Hospitals and Clinics:

BIMC Hospital: Located in Kuta and Nusa Dua, it offers comprehensive medical services for travelers.
Siloam Hospitals: Located in Denpasar and Kuta, providing emergency and general medical services.
Ubud Clinic: Offers medical services specifically catered to tourists in the Ubud area.

Pharmacies:

Guardian and Kimia Farma: Popular pharmacy chains with locations throughout Bali where you can purchase medications and rehydration solutions.

Travel Insurance: Ensure you have travel insurance that covers medical treatment abroad.

What is Bali Belly?

Bali Belly is a term commonly used to describe digestive issues such as diarrhea, stomach cramps, and nausea that can occur after eating contaminated food or drinking contaminated water. The tropical climate of Bali and other parts of Indonesia can create an ideal environment for the growth of bacteria and other pathogens.

Symptoms of Bali Belly

Bali Belly is characterised by stomach cramps, vomiting, traveller’s diarrhoea, nausea, and also fever. At times it can make you severely ill and it might leave you feeling too ill to leave your hotel toilet.

So How Long Does Bali Belly Last?

The good news (and trust me, it’s good news if you get it!) is that it is curable and usually clears up within 24 hours, but it may take a few days to feel normal again.

What Causes Bali Belly?

One of the primary causes of Bali Belly is the consumption of street food and food that has been stored in unsanitary conditions. It is important to exercise caution when eating at local restaurants or street vendors. Look for places that are busy and have high turnover, as this usually indicates that the food is fresh.

Another cause of Bali Belly is drinking tap water that has not been treated or purified. While it is safe to drink bottled water in Bali, it is recommended to avoid drinking tap water, ice, and other drinks made with tap water to avoid the risk of contracting it.

How to Prevent Bali Belly

To avoid getting sick, it is important to take a few precautions while travelling in Bali. First, always wash your hands frequently and thoroughly, especially before eating. Second, avoid eating raw vegetables and fruits that cannot be peeled. Third, stick to eating well-cooked foods and steer clear of street food, especially if you have a sensitive stomach.

Here are some tips to avoid getting Bali Belly:

  • Only eat food that has been cooked thoroughly and avoid eating raw fruits and vegetables.
  • Drink bottled water or water that has been boiled or treated.
  • Avoid eating at street vendors or restaurants that do not look clean.
  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water.

Prevention Tips

Water Safety: Drink only bottled or filtered water. Avoid ice cubes in drinks unless you are certain they are made from filtered water.
Food Safety: Eat at reputable restaurants and avoid street food if you have a sensitive stomach. Ensure that food is thoroughly cooked.
Personal Hygiene: Wash your hands frequently with soap and water, especially before eating.
Avoid Raw Foods: Be cautious with raw vegetables, salads, and fruits that you haven’t peeled yourself.
Use Hand Sanitiser: Carry hand sanitiser with you and use it regularly.

How to Treat Bali Belly

In the unfortunate event that you do contract Bali Belly, the best course of action is to rest and stay hydrated. Over-the-counter medications such as Imodium can help to relieve the symptoms, but it is always best to consult with a doctor if you are feeling unwell.

Treatment Options

Hydration: Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of bottled water, oral rehydration solutions, or electrolyte drinks.
Over-the-Counter Medications: Anti-diarrheal medications like loperamide (Imodium) can help reduce symptoms. Activated charcoal tablets may also be useful.
Probiotics: Taking probiotics can help restore the balance of good bacteria in your gut.
Avoid Certain Foods: Stick to bland foods like rice, bananas, toast, and applesauce until symptoms subside.
Seek Medical Attention: If symptoms are severe or persist for more than a few days, consult a healthcare professional. Antibiotics may be necessary for bacterial infections.

If you have severe symptoms or if your symptoms do not improve after a few days, seek medical attention.

Overall Experience

Experiencing Bali Belly can be an unpleasant part of travel, but with proper precautions and treatment, symptoms can be managed effectively.

Staying informed about food and water safety, practising good hygiene, and knowing where to seek medical help can significantly reduce the impact on your trip.

Visitors should be prepared and proactive to ensure a safe and enjoyable stay in Bali.

Bali Belly FAQs

Will Bali Belly Resolve Naturally?

It typically resolves on its own within 24 hours, though it can sometimes take up to a week. Adjusting to the local environment gradually can help minimise the risk of this condition.

What are Some Effective Remedies for Bali Belly?

Top remedies include hydrating with coconut water, probiotics like Yakult, activated charcoal tablets, and medications like Travelan and Imodium. Consulting a local clinic or doctor is also advisable for severe cases.

Is Pool Water a Risk for Bali Belly?

Avoid ingesting pool or sea water while swimming, especially if you have open wounds or are already experiencing Bali Belly, to prevent spreading the illness.

Can Coca-Cola Alleviate Symptoms?

Coca-Cola or soda water is not recommended as they can aggravate bowel irritation and increase bloating.

Do Locals in Bali Have Immunity to Bali Belly?

It is often triggered by micro-organisms in contaminated food or water. Locals may have developed immunity to these organisms, making them less susceptible.

Foods to Avoid in Bali to Prevent Bali Belly?

Steer clear of street food, leafy greens, undercooked meats, and certain seafoods. Choose well-cooked meals from reputable sources.

Is Eating Salad Safe in Bali?

Exercise caution with salads and raw foods unless you’re dining at a reputable establishment, as they may be washed in tap water.

Is Bali Belly Airborne?

Thankfully no, is not airborne. It is typically contracted through contaminated food, water, or poor hygiene practices.

Dietary Recommendations for Bali Belly Recovery?

Consume bland foods like soups, stews, potatoes, rice, and bananas. Avoid spicy, oily, and dairy foods, as well as fruits and vegetables.

Does Yakult Help with Bali Belly?

Yakult and natural yogurts can aid in restoring gut bacteria balance after experiencing digestive issues. Ensure they are purchased fresh from refrigerated sections.

Why Are Some People Affected by Bali Belly While Others Aren’t?

Bali Belly’s occurrence can vary due to individual hygiene practices. Regular hand washing and avoiding touching your face with unclean hands can reduce the risk.

Can You Bring Hydralyte to Bali?

Bringing Hydralyte to Bali is a good idea to stay hydrated in the heat and humidity. It helps in replenishing electrolytes lost during sun exposure or illness.

How Quickly Can Symptoms of Bali Belly Appear?

Symptoms can emerge anywhere from one hour to 48 hours after consuming contaminated food or water, and sometimes even weeks later.

Is it Safe to Use Tap Water for Brushing Teeth in Bali?

Avoid using tap water for brushing teeth in Bali. Stick to bottled water for oral hygiene to prevent ingesting contaminants.

Is Showering in Bali Water Safe?

Showering and washing hands with Bali’s tap water is safe, but it’s advisable to avoid ingesting it.

What Percentage of Visitors Experience Bali Belly?

Approximately 30-50% of travellers to Bali may experience Bali Belly during their stay.

What are Some Preventive Measures Against Bali Belly?

Begin taking Travelan a few days before travelling, consume only cooked food, drink bottled water, avoid ice in drinks, and wash hands regularly.

Are There Long-Term Effects?

If untreated, Bali Belly can lead to persistent digestive issues like chronic bloating or changes in bowel habits, and potentially progress to conditions like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).