Pharaoh’s revenge: what are the symptoms and how to prevent it?

Everyone who has ever travelled to Egypt knows what pharaoh’s revenge is. They always warn tourists about it, especially those who travel there for the first time. But what pharaoh’s revenge is? What are the symptoms? How to avoid it? What to do it we have pharaoh’s revenge.

What is pharaoh’s revenge?

Pharaoh’s revenge is one of the names of traveler’s diarrhea, a stomach infection that happens to people who travel away from their place of residence, usually to countries of lover hygiene standard. The name “pharaoh’s revenge” is common because it often happens to tourists who travel to Egypt. In Turkey they call it “sultan’s revenge”.

What is the cause of pharaoh’s revenge?

Most of the cases, around 80%, are caused by bacteria, others by viruses or mixed infection. It’s not difficult to be infected with traveler’s diarrhea. You travel to completely different place and your bacterial flora meets new bacteria. What’s more, there is high temperature you are not used to, you try new food. You don’t need much to ruin your holiday because of diarrhea or other symptoms of the pharaoh’s revenge.

Symptoms of pharaoh’s revenge

How can we know if what we have is pharaoh’s revenge? The most common symptoms of the traveler’s diarrhea are:

  • nausea
  • diarrhea
  • vomiting
  • fever
  • lack of energy
  • stomachache

Those complaints last for few days and actually ruin our holiday.

How to prevent the traveler’s diarrhea?

It’s easy to get the diarrhea and there isn’t any rule about who does and who doesn’t. Some people are more and some are less immune. However, there are few simple rules you should obey to avoid getting sick or at least minimize the chances.

Don’t drink tap water

First of all, don’t drink tap water. Tap water is not potable in Egypt so make sure you drink only bottled water. Don’t try drinks if you don’t know where they came from, e.g. juices that are made of water, if you are not sure that it’s bottled water inside. Avoid having drinks with ice because it could have been made of tap water.

Watch what you eat

Fruit should be peeled or washed in bottled water. If it comes to food, don’t mix dishes. When some people travel to a new place, they want to try everything and since there is so much food in the hotel, they don’t have any limits. So they eat too much, then they go to sunbathe, they start feeling bad and other symptoms appear. Remember to eat something light and don’t mix pasta, fish, chicken, soup, cake and rice all for lunch. Even the most immune organism may be vulnerable with this mix of food. When you are in a new place, many dishes will be new for you so start with eating stuff you know and slowly add new, local dishes to your menu.

Remember about the basic rules of hygiene

It’s also important to obey the basic rules of hygiene like washing our hands before eating and not eating if you didn’t wash your hands.

Remember that there isn’t one certain way to avoid the traveler’s diarrhea. You can watch what you eat, never drink tap water and end up having all the symptoms. On the other hand, some people may drink tap water and nothing will happen to them. There is no rule for that. Some people have stronger immune system, others don’t, some adapt to a new place quicker, and some do it slower. However, you should reduce the possibility of having pharaoh’s revenge and take care of yourself so you don’t spend whole holiday in a hotel room due to feeling sick.

How to treat the pharaoh’s revenge?

What should you do if you got the traveler’s diarrhea? Firstly, drink a lot of water (bottled water) and tea. Secondly, change your diet, don’t eat raw food, dishes with a lot of spices, dairy products or sweets. Try to eat boiled food instead, e.g. rice, meat, boiled potatoes and then slowly add other products.

You can also take some medicine. In pharmacies in Egypt you can buy drugs with the same components as anywhere else. Once I got the traveler’s diarrhea, I took Antinal and it helped a lot. This medicine is used for stomachache or diarrhea.

The symptoms should go away after few days but if they last a week and they are severe, consider going to a doctor. Remember, health comes first and if you feel something is not right, you start feeling bad, you have stomachache, diarrhea, react. The quicker you change your diet, the quicker you get rid of a problem. And if the symptoms are becoming more serious, just go to a doctor.


Unfortunately, there is no 100% way to avoid pharaoh’s revenge. Remember about the above mentioned rules to minimize the possibility of getting sick and take care of yourself when you travel. Of course, don’t worry about it too much and don’t panic. Not every person who travels to Egypt has to go through the pharaoh’s revenge. I wish you never have to get sick and you can enjoy sun and free time on holiday!

If you have any friends who are travelling to Egypt for the first time, share this article with them. They may find it very useful.