Here are some important health tips that should be borne in mind when you are travelling, especially to or in a foreign country:-
- Find out as much as possible about the health risks of a place before you actually decide to go there. Is the country you plan to visit politically stable or at war? Are there insect-borne diseases that you need to be protected from? Visit the World Health Organization website and relevant government websites to glean information on the availability of medical services, travel warnings etc.
- If you will be travelling to a third world or underdeveloped country, it is wise to look into immunizations against Hepatitis A, hepatitis B, malaria, typhoid, rabies, cholera, etc. Remember that immunization effect takes time, and many of the programs require a series of shots over several weeks or months. Hence you need to plan ahead.
- Malaria is a life-threatening mosquito-borne blood disease caused by a Plasmodium parasite. It kills about 2 million people a year, and can occur up to six months after initial exposure. Hence, it is important that you take precautions such as immunization, knowing the period of time when mosquitoes are active and using the appropriate insect repellent.
- See your doctor ahead of time to get a thorough medical examination. Ask for health information about the country that you plan to visit and any immunization requirements. If prescriptions are given to you, they should be kept in their original bottles while travelling so that confusion can be avoided during baggage inspections at border crossings.
- If you plan to go to places at high altitudes, be aware of the risk of getting Acute Altitude Sickness which involves symptoms such as dizziness, nausea, headaches, and shortness of breath, and in rare cases, complications with the lungs or brain. This condition is caused by reduced air pressure and lower oxygen levels at high altitudes, and typically occurs at about 8,000 feet above sea level. The medical examination mentioned earlier, in a way, serves as a preventive measure against this by making sure you have no serious health issues. If travelling to extreme altitudes, say higher than 10,000 feet, ask your doctor about acetazolamide, a medication that can ease your body’s adjustment to high altitudes.
- Get medical insurance for your international travel. Note that some credit card plans also provide foreign medical coverage. Read the fine print of your policy to make sure that you know what is covered and what is not.
- Bring along a small first-aid kit.
- Eat at clean places and only drink purified or bottled water in foreign countries.