Getting sick is a part of day to day life and being on the road does not exempt you from that fact especially because travel exposes you to a whole new range of bugs, environments and parasites. In fact, the longer you are traveling, the more likely you will pick up a bug or two.
The key to minimize the chances are actively fighting the risk factors which will make you sick in the first place. The last thing you want is to expose yourself to the risk. Prevention is far better than any possible cure.
Well here are the steps which will surely avoid you from getting sick while you are traveling.
Washing your hands
It is pretty basic but you will be surprised about how many people forget it. The simple act of washing your hands is the key component in controlling infection but it had a huge impact on controlling infection right in the clinical settings from day-to-day life and traveling the world is certainly no exception.
Hand hygiene is very essential to stop the spread of infection and can reduce the chances of vomiting, food poisoning, diarrhea, gastroenteritis, flu or even hepatitis A.
Most travelers carry bottles of hand gel and they are great as a backup but they are not a good replacement for soap and water. Wash your hands right under hot water for at least thirty seconds right before and after eating and then after going to the toilet.
Drinking from bottled water
When you are not sure of the purity of the local water or you are traveling in areas where sanitation is not so great, then it is needless to say that you should avoid local tap water. Well even if the locals drink it but your stomach may not have the right bacteria to protect you from becoming ill, avoid local water or even ice in the drinks in countries which does not purify water.
You should always drink bottled water and verify that the seal is intact right on the bottle top too. It is always a good idea to even use bottled water to brush the teeth. You can also use a water bottle with a built-in-filter as it reduces the need to buy bottles of water constantly.
Staying careful of food contamination
Contamination of food is known to the biggest causes for diarrhea and gastrointestinal problem for any traveler. If you are careful with your food right on travels then you can save yourself from Entamoeba hystolytica, Salmonella, E. coli, diarrhea, Cyclospora, cholera and many more.
You should always make sure that you are eating fresh and thoroughly cooked food which is being served hot.
That is one of the prime reason why one should love street food as you can see how clean the cooking environment is and the food which is being served is prepared right in front of you. But please see the good hygiene practice is followed right at the street food stall or food court where you eat. Check that the person handling the food should wear disposable gloves changing them very frequently. Check if hand washing is a regular occurrence.
You may surely want to avoid or certainly be careful of the following:
- Salads which have been prepared in local untreated water
- Raw fruit and vegetables which have not being peeled or skinned.
- Food which have been left out or exposed for period of time
- Food which is undercooked, reheated or raw food like meat, fish or rice.
If you wish to avoid stomach upset completely just while on traveling then it is certainly better to follow good food hygiene practices and strictly follow as much as possible.
Never be afraid of eating familiar foods
Eating local food and tasting local cuisine is surely one of the true pleasures of traveling and something you should never miss out. Well now if you plan to jump straight into spicy curries or red meat then you are bound to get gastrointestinal upset.
Food intolerances usually happen when your gut cannot properly digest the food which one has eaten or have introduced something new and different which can cause irritation in the digestive tract leading to pain in stomach, cramps, diarrhea, vomiting as well as heartburn. Try new food if you want.
If you have a sensitive stomach then take it easy right at first and never be afraid to eat familiar food from time to time.
One of the best ways to stay fit as well as healthy fighting off unwanted infections is the right exercise. The benefits of each and every exercise are very well known and well documented improving the overall health as well as well being strengthening your immune system which will make you less susceptible to illness.
If you do get sick then your body can better fight off the infection and you will get back on feet more quickly. Staying fit will surely prevent your body from the annoying bug or illness. Try and maintain a healthy lifestyle
If you are not fit or active when you start traveling, make sure to use it as an excuse right from the start. Well if you then go on a jungle trek, hiking right into the countryside or up a mountain, swim in the sea or for a jog.
Protecting yourself against the sun
Sunburn can genuinely ruin a perfect travel experience. If you have got badly sunburned years ago in Thailand right after snorkeling then it will surely be not an experience which you would want to repeat!
So the recommendations on sun protection are to use a minimum of factor 15 not preferably something of least SPF 30.
Protecting yourself from the sun surely goes beyond getting just bad sunburn. You should stay properly hydrated if you are traveling in a country or region with a hot or tropical climate as well as covering up with loose clothing or hat or scarf. Well if you do not then dehydration can easily set in quickly leading to more serious conditions such as heat exhaustion, heatstroke, exposure becoming a medical emergency.
Vaccinations are probably the common travel health concerns. There is no one-size answer that fits all the answers because it is certainly not a universal constant.
Prevention is always better than cure and nothing is better than protecting from the risk of getting a disease than being vaccinated against it.
Not each and every vaccinations are required for each and every individual for every trips and a lot depends right on the vaccinations which one has already like personal medical history or long you are traveling or what you will be doing. That is the reason why it is important to get personal advice right from the local travel clinic, nurse specialist or physician right before you travel.
To give a proper basic understanding of the types of vaccinations you will need to make sure that they are broken up into three distinct categories:
- Routine vaccinations are the ones that everyone gets throughput their childhood and early adult life. Specific schedules do differ from country to country but these generally include BCG vaccine, the vaccinations for diphtheria, tetanus, hepatitis B; hepatitis A, measles, mumps and rubella.
- Recommended vaccination includes various vaccines which are not in the routine schedule of the country which are specific to any destination. These include vaccinations for hepatitis A, rabies, Japanese, cholera and typhus and others.
- There are required vaccinations refer to the vaccinations for yellow fever, meningococcal disease as well as polio. There are many countries where yellow fever is present and which will require you to have proof of vaccination right before you are allowed in. Know the International certificate of vaccination or prophylaxis ( ICVP) before entry.
Protecting yourself from mosquito bites
Mosquito bites are seriously a nightmare for any traveler. At best, they will simply annoy you with their painful as well as itchy welts. They can transmit a whole variety of diseases like yellow fever, dengue and chikungunya and also malaria.
Mosquitoes can surely be a problem in various parts of the world. It is still a good idea to prevent mosquitoes from biting you right in the first place to avoid the annoyance of painful bites. It is the best thing you can do to protect yourself from getting bitten by using preventive measures:
- Air-conditioned rooms are great in minimizing mosquito bites as they are better sealed and most likely to let them in.
- Covering them up as wearing the right clothing is very essential. Wear light as well as loose cotton clothing which covers most of the skin especially around the most exposure times and places.
- Sleep under permethrin-coated nets where it is required.
- Use an anti-mosquito coils as well as plug-in devices where it is appropriate.
- Apply a good dose of 30-50% DEET spray and reapply it regularly. There are certain natural alternatives but they are not as effective as the ones which are clinically proven to be that effective.
Take antimalarials when it is necessary
People are taking antimalarials all the time and one of the biggest problems is the huge amount of misinformation and fear surrounding the issue.
If the area, you are heading to be considered a high risk for malaria then antimalarials are always advised. Antimalarials are medications and like all medications there are side effects. There are a variety of prophylaxes available and each of them has a wide range of common as well as rare side effects.
The most important thing to remember is that each antimalarial affects different people differently. Check the side effects as it may vary from person to person. People who suffer from severe side effects are in absolute minority.
There are different factors which should be taken in consideration which are as follows:
- The level of risk present there in the destination
- The time of the year one is traveling
- Whether there are any current outbreaks
- How long you are staying in the high-risks areas
- What you will be doing
- Your personal medical history
Making an appointment with travel health professional
It is important that you discuss your plans with a health professional before you are head off on a round the world adventure. Many travelers leave it until the last minute. Too many people usually contact me for an appointment right at the travel clinic every week before they leave realizing vaccinations which may need to be timed weeks apart.
The average recommended time to see a health professional is approximately 6-8 weeks right before you leave. Remember you will need to more concern about one vaccination and also the health concerns.
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