In one of our Thai language lessons, we taught you how to order a large plate of Thai food. So, today we’ll cover what you need to know in case a big plate of khâo man gài sends you scrambling for the toilet. Occasional bouts of diarrhea are common in Thailand. Although tourists might find their bouts more frequent and severe, this should not stop you from dining at Thai street stalls — as they often serve the most delicious food in Thailand.
It is understandable why tourists with a busy schedule might want to be a little choosy about what and where they eat, as well as retirees in Thailand with sensitive stomachs. But if you are on a long Thai excursion or an expatriate in the Land of Smiles, we say don’t fear diarrhea in Thailand. Jump right into the street food scene and get your body acclimated to the strange Thai bugs. Your stomach will soon adapt and the runs to the toilet will be less frequent.
So what to do when diarrhea strikes? What medicine and treatments are available? A couple capsules of an anti-diarrheal will alleviate most cases of diarrhea in Thailand. Imodium is perhaps the most well-known drug for diarrhea, but there is no need to buy the more expensive brand name version. The active ingredient in Imodium is Loperamide. You can buy the generic Loperamide (โลเพอราไมด์) in Thailand often for only 1 or 2 baht a pill at small pharmacies (if not in the middle of a tourist district).
A traditional Thai herbal cure for diarrhea that you should also be aware of is kratom. The leaves of the kratom tree have traditionally been boiled to create a tea that we can report is quite good at relieving diarrhea and stomachaches. Learn more in our post about kratom use in Thailand. Also be sure to read our post on Thai stomach medicines to learn what to take to ward off heart burn and cure food poisoning in Thailand.
Stomach n. – ท้อง – tháwng
I’d like 20 pills for diarrhea.
ขอ ยา แก้ ท้อง เสีย ยี่สิบ เม็ด ครับ
Khăw yah gâe tháwng sĭa, yêe-sìp mét khráp.
[Request drug solve stomach spoiled, twenty pills (polite).
To ask for Loperamide directly, replace the phrase “gâe tháwng sĭa” with “lop-uh-ruh-my”.
Thai Travel Tip: A bout of diarrhea in Thailand can come unexpectedly and at the most inopportune time, even for the seasoned expatriate. We thus always recommend that travelers take a couple Loperamide as a precautionary measure before going on a long bus trip, wilderness trek, etc. Or, if you want a milder diarrhea medicine, you could take a couple charcoal (or carbon) tablets, which are available at 7-11 shops (usually placed just to the right, and in front, of the cash register. If you don’t see them, ask the staff for “yah tháwng sĭa”.
If you are concerned whether a Thai pharmacist has understood you correctly and you’re actually getting medicine to stop diarrhea (and not just treatment for a sour stomach), you might ask: Yah yùt thài, châi măi? (ยาหยุดถ่าย ใช่ไหม), which literally means “Drug stop defecate, right?”
To remember how to say stomach in Thai, here is your learn Thai rhyme for the day: “Going to Thailand? It won’t be long before you got a bad tháwng!”