Monday, October 30th 2023

What to Do When You Get Food Poisoning in Mexico

Written by

Rafael Bracho

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Food Poisoning in Mexico

It happens to everyone eventually. You just end up getting food poisoning in Mexico. Maybe you fell for that street jello outside the bus station, or the oysters on the beach in the sun, or it could have been those late night tacos—you can even get it from showering in Mexico—but now you’re sick to your stomach. Oh, you’ll get them all if you eat Mexican food long enough: stabbing stomach pains, acid reflux, Traveler’s Diarrhea. Let’s face it. It’s Mexico. And that morsel that made you sick was probably delicious.


In this article, we’ll cover the different types of food poisoning, when to know whether your condition is serious, and what to do if you have a serious condition.

Trust me, you don’t want severe food poisoning. Here are some of its serious complications:

  • Kidney damage and even kidney failure
  • Meningitis
  • HUS – or Hemolytic Iremic Syndrome
  • Brain or nervous system damage
  • Arthritis Every year, thousands of people end up in the hospital. The last thing you want to do when you’re fighting for your life is worry about costly hospital bills. You can protect yourself with Expat Insurance. Plans that work in any country around the world. Click here too see our Smart Quote Tool for a personalized quote in minutes. It may just save your life.

How to Know If It’s Severe Food Poisoning

Food Poisoning in Mexico

But how do you know if your symptoms are normal or severe? First of all, these are the symptoms common to all forms of food poisoning like E. coli:

  • Cramps
  • Stomach pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting and Nausea
  • Fever green-vomit-sign.jpg

However, you will need to seek medical attention if you have any of these symptoms:

  • Diarrhea lasting 3+ days
  • Bloody diarrhea
  • Body temperature over 39°C (102°F)
  • Repeated vomiting so you cannot keep liquid in your system
  • Signs of dehydration: frequent urination, headache, a dry mouth and throat, and feeling dizzy—especially if you’re standing

Types of Food Poisoning and Their Gestation Periods

Food Poisoning in Mexico

One of the most important factors in telling what type of food poisoning you have is by its gestation period—in other words, How long has it been since you ate the questionable meal? The Centers for Disease Control in the United States have a fantastic chart listing the types of bacteria that you might have contracted and timetables for reintroducing more varied food,.

Montezuma’s Revenge

Food Poisoning in Mexico

Montezuma’s Revenge—or La Venganza de Montezuma in Spanish—is the Latin American term for Traveler’s Diarrhea. (It’s also known as Delhi Belly and the Nile Runs, depending on what part of the world you’re in.) Again, the most common cause is likely E. coli—unless you’re in Asia, where the most likely cause is campylobacter, but it could also be giardia or norovirus. Since you don’t know what you might get sick from, preventative antibiotics are generally discouraged.


The best thing you can do is to only eat at reputable establishments, wash your hands often, drink bottled water, and keep a stash of over-the-counter medications in case you do get sick. (We’ll cover that in a later section.)

What To Eat When You Have Diarrhea

Food Poisoning in Mexico

Regardless of your preventive measures, you’re going to get diarrhea eventually. Even if you eat at the fanciest restaurant, chances are you’ll get diarrhea if only from spicy peppers—which are everywhere.

BRAT When you have diarrhea, the rule of thumb is to eat B-R-A-T:

  • B – Bananas
  • R – Rice
  • A – Apples (Make sure they’re cooked, not raw or in the form of applesauce)
  • T – Toast


This is not an exclusive list, however, and there are a lot of foods you can eat when you have diarrhea, such as potatoes and oatmeal. Also, there are a lot of foods you should be avoiding! Avoid spicy foods, dairy products, greasy meats, and raw berries. *For a comprehensive list of things you should and should not eat—and a timetable of when you can introduce more varied foods—click here.

Rebuilding Flora

After a strong bout of diarrhea in Mexico, you’ll want to rebuild your intestinal flora. Your gut biome is among the most important factors in recovering from diarrhea. The best thing you can eat, once you have fully recovered from diarrhea, is papaya. Nothing helps rebuild your intestinal flora better than papaya. There are lots of other foods that Mexicans eat to rebuild their intestinal flora after they get diarrhea. Yogurt drinks are found in every convenience store, Yakult is one of the most popular brands.. You may also want to eat fermented foods, which are known to increase your intestinal flora. Foods like sauerkraut and kombucha tea are great ways to build your microbiome. *For more information on what you should eat to build a healthy intestinal microbiome, click here.

What To Do If You Get Sick

Food Poisoning in Mexico

The first thing you should do when you start to feel sick is to go to a pharmacy and buy some over-the-counter medication. Here are the solutions that we take at Expat Insurance.

Over the Counter Medicines

Iprikene Iprikene is a very mild powder that comes in different flavors. It’s made with Diosmectite, a natural clay whose main action is to absorb those agents that are causing changes in your bowel movements. *Click here for more information.

Loperamide Is an opioid receptor agonist often sold in the United States under the brand name Imodium. In Mexico, it’s called Loperamida. It stops the frequency of Diarrhea. However, if you have a fever, or if you have blood/mucus in your stool, then don’t take Loperamide. *Click here for more information.

Lomotil Lomotil is a bit more serious. It really puts a plug in your system if you have severe diarrhea. However, it’s bad for the heart—so you should never exceed the dosage or take if you have a heart condition—and it’s unclear whether or not it’s safe to take when pregnant. *Click here for more information.

Sinuberase Sinuberase helps to decrease colitis, and soothe the causes of gas, indigestion, pain, diarrhea, and constipation. It’s a series of probiotics that are very mild and safe for children to take. *Click here for more information.

Picot Sal de Uva Picot Sal de Uva is a grape salt used to treat indigestion and heartburn over the counter. *Click here for more information.

Suero – Don’t take more than two a day Suero is the Spanish word for an electrolyte drink. They are used to help hydrate the body and prevent dehydration due to diarrhea or physical exertion. Do not drink more than two electrolyte drinks a day, they contain a lot of salt and more than two is unhealthy. *Click here for more information.

Activated Charcoal Pills Activated charcoal is often recommended by people for Traveler’s Diarrhea, however, according to the Mayo Clinic, there’s no concrete evidence that it has any positive effects on your digestion. *Click herefor more information.

Seeing A Doctor in Mexico

If you aren’t feeling well after a day, or if you’ve gotten way worse, you should consider seeing a pharmacy doctor in Mexico. Pharmacy doctors have their offices in some pharmacies. They are very inexpensive and can prescribe antibiotics or direct you to a specialist if you have a serious condition.


Or you may want to go to a clinic or even a hospital—especially if you have insurance that’s in effect in your geographical location. *Click here to read our guide on seeing a doctor in Mexico.



Food Poisoning in Mexico

It’s only a matter of time until you get food poisoning in Mexico. It’s a fact of life here—a small price to pay for living in such a great place.. The sights, sounds, smells, the culture, and the delicious food make living in Mexico worth it—even if sometimes that food comes back to haunt you. Unfortunately, sometimes food poisoning in Mexico can lead to serious and costly health complications. The best way to protect yourself is to get some form of expat health insurance so you can rest easy and go ahead and eat that delicious mole burrito in El Bajío or that seafood molcajete while visiting the Riviera Nayarit. Just click here for our free Smart Quote Tool. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

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