[TMI] What disease did I get a couple years ago?

So I went hiking a couple years ago and lost my water filter. So instead of cancelling my hike, I put pepper spray in my unfiltered water thinking it might be antiseptic. 3 days later I came down with watery diarrhea that made me dump a whole bowel movement’s worth of water at least four times during the night. It was so bad that I was even rehydrating with water and still got a headache which I cured with Gatorade. I had to go to the bathroom a couple more times the next day but other than that I had absolutely no symptoms and was fine after that.

Here’s the thing. According to Wikipedia, the main pathogens causing Wilderness Diarrhea have an incubation period of 7 days, not 3. Plus, I actually did check my stool to see if it was bloody or mucousy, and it was not to the best of my knowledge (which would seem to rule out the main Wilderness Diarrhea pathogens as well unless I was wrong.) Plus the main pathogens also have others symptoms like fever, which I didn’t have, and fatigue, which I only had because I couldn’t get any sleep! I was strong enough to walk around Washington D.C. that day without pooping out (ha!) until late afternoon.

I wonder if this wasn’t my gut’s reaction to the capsaicins from the pepper spray, but it usually takes me less than 2 days for me to get diarrhea if I have to much hot food to eat and it doesn’t cause watery diarrhea.

I wonder if I didn’t get a totally unrelated pathogen from something I ate before my hike and it didn’t bite me until I hit Washington.

Sounds like Bever Fever (Giardia). I’d post a link to the wiki page but I’m on my phone - basically starts 2ish days after infection and explosive diarrhea is the key symptom.

Three days does seem a little late for the capsaicin to be at fault. I know that my innards respond within 12 hours to a big platter of hot, spicy korma.

If you want to look at the four types of laxatives (and who doesn’t?), click right here.

And…pepper spray in your water? What the hell did it taste like?



Giardia would be my guess. It fits the profile.

Hot! :smiley: If you just spray as little as possible into one liter of water, it makes it fairly hot, but tolerable to me (as long as you don’t put your lips to the same place where the spray directly contacted the container). I knew enough to know that the capsaicins were the same as in regular food and so were non toxic. I was just wondering what else they were allowed to put in the spray since it wasn’t a food product. But I survived – that brand, that is!

Whatever’s used as a propellant and anything else that might be needed to make capsaicin stable and able to be used as an aerosol. Just don’t mix up regular pepper spray with the type that’s combined with tear gas! :eek:

Explosive diarrhea is common to most of the bacterial and toxin ones too, even some viral ones, not so specific, and not usually 2ish days, usually more like 7 days. (See this cdc page.) It also tends to last longer than this one did. Which does not mean that this bug just did not read the textbook.

Really not enough to go on. General patterns - severe cramping, unable or barely able to make it to the toilet, blood or mucous, fever, all suspicious for a bacterial cause. Hitting hard and fast and gone quickly too, along with lack of fever more suspicious for toxin ingestion mediated with that hitting fast as hours not days. But nothing written in stone.

Um, is there any reason to think pepper spray would work as a water treatment? If it works on bears it should work on tiny little parasites?

Don’t have time to read these but some have found that it has antibacterial properties. The question is if this is true and how much concentration is needed. No magical thinking involved!

Still, you gotta admit it’s a little weird. Why didn’t you use a couple drops of bleach or iodine or something? (Granted, not everyone has iodine tablets, but if you’re a hiker that already has a purifier…)

Never woulda thought of using the pepper spray, that’s for sure. Funny!

Wow, food in general does that to me…

Third vote for Giardia.

What I’m reading indicates giardia infection to onset is about 7 days. Plus, I got it once while camping, and 2 days of diarrhea without treatment doesn’t fit. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.