Your Guide to Holiday Health
Last Updated on Wednesday, 20 November 2013 20:20
It should be the highlight of the year, something you have saved for and looked forward to for months. But a dream holiday could turn into a nightmare if you fail to take some basic health precautions before you travel and while you are away on holiday.
Sunburn, insect bites, upset stomachs are familiar complaints, but in more exotic place horros such as malaria can be lurking.
Good sense is often forgotten as fun seekers indulge in too much rich food, alcohol and sun. More seriously the different standards of hygiene, unfamiliar biting insects, and long periods under a fiercely hot sun can present real dangers.
Follow the Travel Health Tips to come and make sure you get to enjoy your holiday to the full.
Follow the Travel Health Tips to come and make sure you get to enjoy your holiday to the full. Also if you are travelling to the US be sure to check out Esta Visa requirements early. The last think you need when setting out on your holiday is what happened to this family: http://www.estafasttrack.org.uk/blog/esta-visa-refusal-nightmare-uk-family/
There is also a comprehensive guide here.
Once you have decided which country you are visiting, you should consult your pharmacist or travel health centre to see if you need any vaccinations. Do this as early as possible as some vaccinations need a number of weeks to become active.
The type of vaccinations you may need include typhoid and hepatitis, which are often recommended for countries with poor sanitation and standards of hygiene.
If you have been immunized against diphtheria, polio or tetanus since you were a child, it could be a good time to get a booster. The bacteria that causes tetanus is found in soils worldwide and can easily enter a small wound or scratch. If left untreated tetanus can lead to paralysis.
Some vaccinations are free under the NHS but for others there may be a charge. Advice on travel medications and vaccinations is available from your pharmacist.
Remember to allow enough time before you go away to obtain your medication and start taking it. Ideally you should talk to your pharmacist at least 6 weeks before you travel.
Next: Health Insurance
Insuring Your health
Living in the UK it is easy to forget that elsewhere healthcare is expensive. Within the EU there are mutual healthcare agreements, but these don’t always cover all expenses – such as an ambulance home – so it is a good idea to take out travel insurance for your trip. If you are travelling outside the EU travel insurance is vital.
If you go aboard more than once a year, it can be cheaper to buy annual multi-trip insurance rather than single trip insurance. Check with your travel agent or on the internet.
Before travelling in the EU you should obtain an E111 form. This gives UK residents free or reduced cost emergency treatment if you become ill or have an accident while when travelling in the EU. The form is free and is available from the post office. You must fill it in and get it stamped and signed by the post office or you will not be able to use it.
The E111 ceases to be valid from January 2006 as it is being replaced with a insurance card. This card is already in use in many European countries and will be issued in the UK in 2005.
Preventing Travel Sickness
Travel Sickness Motion sickness is not just for kids. Although the peak age for it is around 10 years, as many as one in three adults will suffer from it at some stage in their lives.
Motion sickness can be caused by a car, train, flight or ferry journey. The main symptoms are nausea and vomiting. Other symptoms include sweating and a pale or flushed appearance.
There is a range of products available for travel sickness. They fall into main types:
Antihistamines, which are longer acting and more suitable for long journeys.
Hyoscine, which acts quickly but lasts for a shorter time.
Non-medical approaches include wristbands that work on the basis of acupressure points, which are safe for pregnant woman.
Tips for Preventing Travel Sickness
On a coach or bus choose a seat between the wheels.
On ferries and planes try to sit in the middle.
When travelling by car try to sit in the front.
Where possible try to get fresh air
Don’t read on a car or sea journey
Sit where you can see the horizon
Economy Class Syndrome and Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)
Economy class syndrome is the term that has been given to the problem of travellers developing a blood clot in their leg (deep vein thrombosis or DVT). The risk is not with the clot in the leg, but that the clot will break free and travel through the body ultimately stopping in some other place – like the lungs – where it can restrict blood flow and potentially lead to death.
Despite the name economy class syndrome, the problem is not limited to airline travel. Any prolonged period of sitting with little leg movement – such as on a coach or car journey – can restrict the blood flow through the legs, and can cause clotting.
Tips to Maintain Blood Circulation
Move your legs and ankles about at regular intervals during your journey
Where possible get up and walk around regularly
Wear support stockings or flight socks
Drink plenty of water to keep you well hydrated (not alcohol).
Avoding Tummy Upsets and Diarrhoea
Even the most careful traveller can get an upset tummy. This is usually caused by organisms in the food or drink, which are harmless to the local population because they are used to them, but can cause holidaymakers a few days of discomfort. This is particularly true in warmer climates where bacteria breed more quickly.
Most tummy upsets and diarrhoea will go away within a few days without treatment. If you develop diarrhoea you should stop eating for 24 hours and drink plenty of fluids to replace the liquid you are losing. You can take anti-diarrhoea medication which you can buy before you leave home.
Diarrhoea can lead to dehydration because of the loss of fluid. Ensure that you drink plenty of fluids and take rehydration sachets to replace lost water and salt. It’s always a good idea to take a few of these sachets on holiday just in case you develop a stomach upset.
When you do feel well enough to eat again try eating bland foods for the next 24 hours.
Avoid the following:
Tap Water – even for cleaning your teeth
Ice – unless you know it has been made from bottled water
Salads – unless you know they have been washed in safe water
Buffets – especially if the food has been left out for a while or has not been covered or chilled
Unpasteurized milk – dairy products and ice cream
Raw uncooked meat or fish – make sure the food has been cooked properly and is hot
Fruit that can’t be peeled - Always peel it yourself
Staying Safe in the Sun
Lazing in the sun can be one of life’s greatest pleasures but too much can be hazardous, especially when your skin burns. Sunburn causes permanent damage to the skin, making it look older and increasing the risk of developing skin cancer. Sunburn in childhood makes you more susceptible to skin cancer later in life.
It is vital that you keep infants out of direct sunlight and be very careful with young children. Using a sunscreen with a high sun protection factor (SPF) does not mean you or your children can stay in the sun indefinitely.
Sun Safety Tips:
Always wear a sunscreen with SPF of 15 or higher. Put it on an hour before you go out into the sun and reapply regularly, particularly if you are swimming.
Wear loose, cool clothing – sleeves and long shorts – to keep the sun off your skin.
Always wear a hat with a wide brim to protect your neck.
Protect your eyes with sunglasses
Stay in the shade between 11am and 3pm – the hottest part of the day.
Children should always wear a shirt and hat when playing in the sun, even at the beach.
Avoiding and Treating Insect Bites and Stings
Biting and stinging insects are at bet, a nuisance and at worst can cause serious problems. Most of us realise that malaria can be a problem in more exotic countries, but now mosquitoes in the USA and Canada are passing on a different disease, West Nile virus, that can be equally unpleasant. So wherever you are going, pack a good insect repellent in your bag.
Repellents containing the chemical DEET are the most effective at keeping the mosquitoes away. Other ways to avoid mosquitoes include covering up with long sleeves long trouser and socks when outdoors. Mosquitoes may bite through clothing, so spraying your clothes with DEET will give you extra protection. However don’t spray repellent containing DEET on your skin under your clothes as well. Advice is available for disease control at www.cdc.gov
The hour from dusk to dawn are peak mosquitoes biting time for many species of mosquitoes. Take extra care to use repellent and wear protective clothing during evening and early morning – or consider avoiding outdoor activities during these hours. In your room at night, electrical plug in repellents will slowly release insecticide to prevent bites while you are sleeping. A mosquito net will also offer protection if you are travelling somewhere where they can be suspended.
Ask your pharmacist about suitable insect repellents and soothing creams to treat bites and stings.