How To Stay Healthy Abroad
1. Book in your immunisations
Ensuring you are fully up to date with immunisations is vital before you start travelling. The vaccinations should be tailored depending on where you are planning to visit. The chance of contracting some potentially serious diseases can be minimised by ensuring you get the correct vaccinations. Frequently required vaccinations include hepatitis A, Typhoid, Tetanus. Whereas others such as Rabies, Yellow fever and Japanese encephalitis may be required according to your destination(s).
It’s so important you plan this well in advance, some vaccinations need to be administered 6-8 weeks prior to travelling to ensure they are effective.
2. Don’t forget about malaria
Again depending on your location it is important you take adequate precautions against contracting malaria. Taking anti-malarial medication can help reduce your risk. It’s important to speak to your doctor as the type of medication is dependent on where you are travelling to, other medical conditions you may have and regular medication you are taking.
Malaria is spread by mosquitoes so reducing your risk of bites is also vital. Some tips to minimise risk of getting bitten:
- Wear long sleeved tops and trousers to cover as much skin as possible
- Using insect repellent on any exposed areas of skin
- Use of mosquito nets when sleeping – just be sure to inspect them for any holes!
3. Pack your sun protection
If you’re lucky enough to be visiting somewhere hot and sunny there are some simple tips to help protect against sunburn, heatstroke and dehydration:
- Try to avoid the sun when it is strongest between the hours of 12pm – 2pm
- Use a sun hat or cap and cover up as much as possible with light and loose fitting clothing
- When your skin is exposed to the sun it’s important to use sunscreen – in addition to protecting the skin from burning it will also help against developing certain types of skin cancer
- Always carry around a bottle of water to prevent getting dehydrated
4. Remember your (medical) bag
Depending on your destination you may not have easy access to medical facilities when required. Speak to your doctor about putting together a mini medical bag. Items may include:
- A first aid kit (bandages)
- Oral rehydration sachets – for if you develop a diarrhoea or vomiting episode
- Anti-diarrhoeal medication such as loperamide
- Travel sickness tablets
Also don’t forget your usual medications if you have any chronic conditions such as asthma, diabetes, high blood pressure etc.
5. Fly safely
Long haul flights can increase your risk of getting a DVT, especially if you have had a previous DVT, are pregnant, take HRT or the combined pill, or have medical conditions that reduce your mobility.
The following tips can help to reduce your risk:
- Stay active on the flight – get up regularly and go for a walk
- Drink plenty of water to ensure you keep well hydrated
- Avoid excessive alcohol and caffeine, which can lead to dehydration
- Some patients may benefit from the use of anti-embolism stockings