Sickness While Traveling
By Adrian Sparrow
When you plan to get away from the doldrums of daily life, the last thing you want is to get sick and miss out on your vacation. With extra preparation and planning, you can still make the most of your travel, even if somebody succumbs to sickness.
First Aid Kit
Prepare in advance and pack a first aid kit to take with you. Bring common injury and prevention essentials, including bug spray, sunscreen, and OTC medications like ibuprofen and antacids. People with seasonal allergies will want to bring an antihistamine. If you’re going somewhere remote or isolated, pack bandages, topical antibiotics, and hydrocortisone. Take your prescription medication, including rescue medication, and their original bottles or labels in case you need to see a doctor. It’s also a good idea to bring a single sheet of paper that contains your medical history, including past illnesses, hospitalizations, medications, allergies, and your doctors’ contact information.
If you become ill when you’re away, adjust your diet accordingly. Drink plenty of fluids- if you’re traveling to another country, it’s recommended you drink bottled drinks instead of tap water. If you have gastrointestinal problems, choose bland foods that won’t further upset your stomach, like bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast, before slowly returning to a balanced diet. Avoid greasy and spicy foods, dairy, and citrus until you feel better.
Even if you’re on vacation to relax, getting sick while traveling has a way of interrupting your plans. Stick with leisurely activities like bus tours and local shows instead of pushing through intensive activity and making yourself sicker. Take time to recover so you can get back to your scheduled events. Take it easy in your room with a warm bath, hot tea, and nap until you recover. Unless you have a fever, most illnesses won’t require a trip to the doctor. If you get a fever while traveling, seek medical attention quickly since a severe illness like malaria could cause it.
There are a lot of new challenges that come with traveling to a foreign country. Jet lag will require careful planning to adjust your sleep schedule to the new time zone. Additionally, you’re more prone to the area’s endemic diseases and different germs and bacteria in local foods and water that lead to traveler’s diarrhea. If you’re traveling abroad, getting sick can be a scary ordeal between finances and finding care. Thankfully, more than 150 countries have low or even free healthcare and medication costs, even for foreigners who might otherwise have to shell out thousands of dollars for a single injury. Before you leave, check the local policies for healthcare and services closest to your accommodations and what you might be expected to pay. If you need healthcare in another country, look for public hospitals and services to keep your costs down. Depending on where you’re traveling, purchasing international medical insurance in case of an emergency is still a good idea. Insurance will be helpful if the bill is higher than you expected or you need to return home immediately for care.
Despite our best efforts to stay safe and healthy, emergencies still happen. Get immediate medical attention if you have symptoms of stroke or heart attack, progressing weakness, or a broken bone. Sometimes, the best thing to do is cancel the rest of the trip and go back home. Travel insurance can help you get home in a medical emergency, but be aware that airlines might not let a visibly sick person fly. In addition, the high altitude and lower temperatures of commercial flights can dehydrate you and worsen your illness.
Disclaimer: This content is provided for information purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.