Health Precautions To Follow For A Happy Vacation
“Common illness seen during travel include gastroenteritis or diarrhoeal diseases, typhoid fevers, malaria, dengue infections, rickettsial fevers, respiratory tract infections, urinary tract infections etc.”
During this time of the year, travel is everyone’s agenda, so be it to revisit a popular tourist destination or to experience the beauty of unseen natural locales or even to visit friends and relatives. It may be a short local trip, a vacation to anywhere within the country or travelling abroad – the joy and thrill of getting out is always a welcome respite from one’s regular humdrum life. However, travel is also associated with some health concerns, so being healthy and safe during a vacation is important, more so, when accompanied by children and senior citizens.
Common Travel Related Illnesses
Common illness seen during travel include gastroenteritis or diarrhoeal diseases, typhoid fevers, malaria, dengue infections, rickettsial fevers, respiratory tract infections. urinary tract infections etc. Some of these spread through food and water contamination and some are transmitted by mosquitoes or insect bites like ticks or mites. Other concerns include injuries and fall risks especially associated with adventure trips.
A particular worry is the risk of worsening of pre-existing medical illness including asthma or allergic respiratory disease when exposed to dust or cold temperatures, worsening of cardiac illness in a cardiac patient or even sudden erratic diabetic control in a known diabetic leading to complications.
Precautions To Follow For An Enjoyable Experience
- Staying well hydrated by taking adequate fluids throughout the journey helps ease fatigue and travel stress. This is very important for the elderly, children and diabetics and when one develops any infections – even a minor gastroenteritis or a UTI.
- Wear well covered clothing especially while in bushy areas where there are more trees or shrubs to protect against insect bites. Also, use mosquito repellents in areas where mosquito borne infections are prevalent.
- Carry your regular medications adequately stocked along with a recent complete prescription by your doctor. It would be helpful if the drug names are mentioned clearly including the pharmaceutical name as alternative brands may then easily be available.
- A travel medicine kit is very helpful. This should contain simple medications for fever like paracetamol, some antacids and antispasmodics, medications for nausea and vomiting and some decongestants for respiratory infections. This will come in handy when immediate access to a medical facility is difficult. Also carry some minor first aid measures like band aids, an antiseptic cream and sterile wipes especially when travelling with children.
- For travellers who have medical illnesses, it would be wise to carry a small medical summary of your condition, especially when travelling for a long distance or for a prolonged period. Children may sometimes need their vaccination record when travelling abroad. Additionally, always carry an allergy indicator prominently.
- Maintain a balanced diet and adequate calorie intake. Healthy eating during travel is important to maintain optimal health and boost immunity. Though one of the pleasures of travelling is to experience the local cuisine. However, it is important to make sure that the consumed food and water is safe.
- Preferably restrict intake to food which is well-cooked. Salads or raw foods should only be consumed it well washed in potable water. Also, avoid fresh fruit juices unless you are sure about the source of the water. Avoid cut fruits unless it is in a totally hygienic environment. These measures reduce the risk of diarrhoeal diseases and typhoid to a large extent.
- Diabetics are especially prone to foot infections and injuries and need to take adequate precautions. Thus, comfortable walking shoes prevent blistering and other foot injuries.
- Patients with cardiac and renal illness should always confirm their limits of exercise with their doctors before vacations or long trips as some vacations involve prolonged walking or other unaccustomed exertion which can exhaust such patients and exacerbate their condition.
- Those with sensitive skin need to avoid sun burn and photosensitivity and thus, should take adequate protection including liberal use of sun screen and moisturizing lotions.
- Certain countries require vaccination against specific diseases like yellow fever and it is important to comply with all recommendations prior to planning a trip to such areas. Other countries may be endemic for certain diseases and chemoprophylaxis i.e. medicines to prevent infections like malaria may be necessary.
- Sleep disturbances, anxiety, irritability are common especially among the elderly during a visit to an unfamiliar place or in a new environment, Handle them gently and patiently in such situations to help make the trip memorable for the whole family.
- Long journeys also increase the risk of deep venous thrombosis. Intermittent stops with calf muscle stretching and short periods of ambulation with occasional need of compression stockings help to prevent this dangerous condition in high risk individuals.