If you’ve traveled to Bali, chances are you have heard about Bali belly.
If you don’t know what it is, it’s basically ‘traveler’s diarrhea’ and can strike anyone at any time — just like it did this tourist.
US travel influencer Aili Hillstrom, who boasts 2.4 million followers on TikTok, decided to dig out an old video from when she visited the hotspot a year ago.
She warned viewers not to watch it if they easily get grossed out and while she was embarrassed to share it, she eventually caved as she thought it was also hilarious.
“I got Bali belly and let me tell you I have seen people talk about Bali belly on this app, nothing could have prepared me for this. It’s about every ten …” she said before running to the bathroom.
She then finished her sentence: “It’s about above every ten minutes and it’s so painful.”
As Aili finished what she was saying, you could hear the situation taking place while she filmed herself on the toilet.
The clip has been viewed more than 1.8 million times with many in stitches over the “gross” clip.
“THE NOISE,” someone wrote with laughing emojis.
“I can’t stop laughing,” said another.
“I can only imagine how that feels it seems terrible,” a third said, to which Aili responded, “Like knives”.
She described it as the “worst experience of my entire life” but also didn’t want it to deter people from visiting the popular location.
“I didn’t know what Bali belly was till this post and when you ran wasn’t sure which end it was gonna come out,” one person joked.
Australian doctor and founder of Femma, Emma Rees, explained that Bali belly is caused by ingesting bacteria from contaminated food or water and can last up to five days.
“You might experience diarrhea, abdominal pains, hot and cold sweats and aching joints,” she recently told news.com.au.
“Headaches are also possible symptoms and these can indicate dehydration which is the main clinical risk of travellers diarrhea.”
It’s also Southern Cross Travel Insurance (SCTI) most common claim among Aussies.
“Indonesia has many beautiful things to offer, but Bali belly certainly isn’t one of them,” SCTI CEO Jo McCauley told news.com.au.
“While it can clear up within a matter of days, more serious cases can require hospitalization if you become severely dehydrated.”
The company’s insurance policy sales for trips to Indonesia are up 38 percent compared to pre-pandemic, with Bali belly accounting for 24 percent of total claims received in 2023.
“If you need to go to a hospital in Bali or you think you might incur medical expenses that are likely to exceed $2,000, our customers – or someone acting on their behalf – will need to contact our Emergency Assistance support team for prior approval as soon as possible. This team is available 24/7,” Ms. McCauley said.
“We will be able to review your claim, and subject to you meeting the terms and conditions of your policy, we can organize emergency evacuation if necessary, provide the hospital with a payment guarantee so you don’t have to pay upfront, and keep your family back home informed of your situation.”
Ms. McCauley said, however, if you need to visit a GP while you’re in Indonesia for a minor medical reason, you don’t need to contact Southern Cross Emergency Assistance.
“Instead, simply pay your bill and claim afterwards. Keep hold of your receipts and any doctor’s notes as we will need to see these alongside your claim.”
What to do if you get ‘Bali belly’
An Irish tourist has described it as “no joke whatsoever” after copping it just three days into her trip to the Indonesian hotspot.
“So from my experience of having Bali belly, there’s a lot people don’t tell you about having it,” Tammy Whelan said in a viral TikTok.
“You cannot be [more than] four meters [from] a toilet and I mean that you’re going to be severely excreting from your mouth and ass all at the same time.”
“The thought of food will make you physically sick (and) you’re going to be severely dehydrated and in turn you’re going to hallucinate.”
Dr. Rees said when in countries where traveler’s diarrhea is very common – such as in Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia – make sure you are drinking water that is filtered, boiled or bottled.
“Avoid ice as this can be made from contaminated water, likewise salad and fruit may have been washed in contaminated water,” she said.
“If you can, rewash such items in bottled or filtered water. Avoid buffets with food sitting out in temperate conditions as food may warm up to a temperature optimal for bacteria to replicate. Ensure you are eating and drinking at reputable establishments.”
Bali belly – or traveler’s diarrhea – is in fact very common, with Dr. Rees saying between a third and half of travelers will experience it.
Travel insurance company Cover-More had its medical team help 1174 Aussies who contracted gastroenteritis/Bali belly in 2022 – with 112 of the cases in Bali.
This is compared to 1457 overall reported cases in 2016.
“In 2022, the cost of the 1174 medical cases was more than $3.5 million, an average of about $3000 per case, compared to $1400, more than double. So, it’s critically important to have good travel insurance to cover this unplanned and painful expense,” Todd Nelson, managing director of Cover-More Travel Insurance, recently told news.com.au.
Dr. Rees advised anyone who has Bali belly to rest up, sip fluids regularly and ensure you are using clean water.