Can Bali Belly Last a Week

Planning a trip to Bali? As idyllic as it sounds, experiencing what's commonly known as "Bali Belly" can turn your dream vacation into a nightmare. So, can Bali Belly last a week? It's a question that many travelers have, and rightly so.

Peter Veenstra

9/21/20235 min read

What is Bali Belly?

Bali Belly refers to a type of traveler's diarrhea that is caused by consuming contaminated food or water. It is a common gastrointestinal illness that affects many tourists visiting Bali. The main culprit behind Bali Belly is a bacterium called Escherichia coli (E. coli). This bacterium is typically found in the intestines of humans and animals and can contaminate food and water sources if proper hygiene practices are not followed.

Symptoms of Bali Belly

The symptoms of Bali Belly can range from mild to severe, and they typically manifest within a few days of exposure to the contaminated source. The most common symptoms include stomach cramps, diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting. These symptoms can be extremely uncomfortable and can significantly impact your travel plans. It is important to note that not everyone who visits Bali will experience Bali Belly, but it is always better to be prepared.

Causes of Bali Belly

As mentioned earlier, Bali Belly is caused by consuming contaminated food or water. This can happen if you eat at unhygienic food stalls or restaurants or drink untreated water. It is crucial to be cautious about what you eat and drink while in Bali to minimize the risk of getting sick.

Contamination can occur due to various reasons, such as improper food handling, lack of proper sanitation practices, or even inadequate water treatment systems. Additionally, certain foods and beverages, such as raw or undercooked meat, seafood, salads, and tap water, have a higher risk of contamination and should be avoided, especially if you have a sensitive stomach.

Duration of Bali Belly

While most cases of Bali Belly resolve within a few days with proper rest and hydration, severe cases can last up to a week or longer. The duration of Bali Belly can vary from person to person and depends on several factors. These factors include the individual's immune system, the severity of the infection, and the treatment received.

It is essential to note that even if your symptoms improve after a few days, it is crucial to continue taking precautions and practicing good hygiene to prevent a relapse. Your body may still be recovering, and exposing yourself to contaminated sources can prolong the duration of the illness.

Treatment for Bali Belly

The treatment for Bali Belly primarily focuses on alleviating the symptoms and restoring hydration and electrolyte balance. In most cases, home remedies and over-the-counter medications are sufficient to manage the symptoms. These remedies include:

  • Resting and avoiding strenuous activities

  • Drinking plenty of fluids, such as water, clear broths, and oral rehydration solutions

  • Avoiding caffeine, alcohol, and spicy or greasy foods that can further irritate the stomach

  • Taking over-the-counter medications, such as loperamide, to relieve diarrhea

  • Using anti-nausea medications, such as dimenhydrinate or metoclopramide, to reduce nausea and vomiting

Preventing Bali Belly

Prevention is always better than cure, and this holds true for Bali Belly as well. Here are some practical tips to help you avoid the dreaded Bali Belly and enjoy your vacation to the fullest:

  1. Drink Bottled Water: Stick to bottled water and avoid tap water, ice cubes, and drinks made with tap water. Ensure that the bottled water is properly sealed before consuming.

  2. Eat at reputable establishments: Choose restaurants or food stalls that have good hygiene practices and a high turnover of customers. Avoid eating at places that appear unclean or have questionable food handling practices.

  3. Wash your hands: Proper hand hygiene is crucial in preventing the spread of bacteria. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water before eating or handling food. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.

  4. Choose cooked and hot foods: Opt for cooked foods that are served piping hot. Avoid raw or undercooked meat, seafood, and eggs as they have a higher risk of contamination.

  5. Be cautious with fruits and vegetables: While fruits and vegetables are generally healthy, they can be a source of contamination if not properly washed. Peel fruits or wash them thoroughly with clean water before consumption.

  6. Use bottled water for brushing teeth: Avoid using tap water for brushing your teeth. Use bottled water instead to minimize the risk of consuming contaminated water.

  7. Be mindful of food handling practices: If you are self-catering, ensure that you handle food properly. Keep raw and cooked foods separate, cook food thoroughly, and refrigerate leftovers promptly.

When to See a Doctor for Bali Belly

In most cases, Bali Belly can be managed at home with rest, hydration, and over-the-counter medications. However, there are instances when it is essential to seek medical attention. These include:

  • Severe or persistent diarrhea that does not improve after a few days

  • High fever (above 101°F or 38°C)

  • Blood in the stool

  • Dehydration symptoms, such as excessive thirst, dry mouth, decreased urine output, or dizziness

  • Severe abdominal pain or cramps

  • Persistent vomiting or inability to keep fluids down

If you experience any of these symptoms, it is crucial to consult a healthcare professional for a proper diagnosis and appropriate treatment. They may recommend tests, such as stool culture or blood tests, to determine the cause of your symptoms.

Home Remedies for Bali Belly

While medical treatment is necessary in severe cases, there are some home remedies that can help alleviate the symptoms of Bali Belly. These remedies include:

  • Drinking clear fluids, such as water, herbal teas, or electrolyte-rich solutions, to stay hydrated and replace lost fluids and electrolytes.

  • Consuming bland, easily digestible foods, such as toast, rice, bananas, or boiled potatoes, to provide nourishment without overloading the digestive system.

  • Taking probiotics, which can help restore the balance of good bacteria in the gut and aid in digestion.

  • Using ginger, either in the form of ginger tea or ginger capsules, to soothe nausea and improve digestion.

It is important to note that these home remedies may provide temporary relief but may not cure the underlying infection. If your symptoms persist or worsen, it is advisable to seek medical attention.

Diet and Hydration During Bali Belly

Proper diet and hydration play a crucial role in recovering from Bali Belly. Here are some dietary guidelines to follow during this time:

  • Stick to bland and easily digestible foods, such as cooked rice, boiled potatoes, toast, and bananas. These foods are gentle on the stomach and provide necessary nourishment.

  • Avoid spicy, greasy, or fatty foods, as they can further irritate the digestive system and worsen symptoms.

  • Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids, such as water, herbal teas, and oral rehydration solutions. Avoid caffeine and alcohol, as they can dehydrate the body.

  • If you're unable to eat solid foods, try consuming clear broths or soups to provide some nourishment and maintain hydration levels.

  • Gradually reintroduce solid foods once your symptoms start to improve. Start with small portions of easily digestible foods and gradually increase the amount and variety as tolerated.

It is important to listen to your body and eat according to your comfort level. If certain foods worsen your symptoms, avoid them until you have fully recovered.


Bali Belly can be an unpleasant experience that can disrupt your vacation plans. While most cases resolve within a few days, severe cases can last up to a week or longer. It is crucial to take precautions and practice good hygiene to minimize the risk of getting sick. By following simple guidelines, such as drinking bottled water, eating at reputable establishments, and practicing proper hand hygiene, you can reduce the chances of experiencing Bali Belly. If you do fall ill, remember to rest, stay hydrated, and seek medical attention if necessary. With proper care, you can still enjoy your time in Bali and create unforgettable memories.