Travelling is one of life’s simple pleasures. It is an activity that one can enjoy with family, friends, workmates, neighbours, strangers, and even alone.
Travelling is both pleasurable and empowering — with the freedom to discover new places, meet new people, experience different cultures and traditions, and feel alive and exhilarated by the sensory pleasures of being in another place aside from the confines of one’s home.
However, no matter how one wants to experience a hassle-free trip each time, the sky is not rosy throughout the year.
This means that things can go wrong despite all the precautions and preparations one puts into each travel. Health-related emergencies are among the top hiccups that every traveller can experience and thus, must prepare for.
Here are four health problems that you could be faced with while travelling and should be fully ready to address:
In places where there are questionable sanitation and restricted access to safe drinking water, diarrhoea is every traveller’s ever-present enemy. And while the worst-case scenario in most people’s minds about it is frequent trips to the comfort room, the actual worst-case is several notches worse than that.
Data show that diarrhoea kills around 2,195 children each day, which is more than measles, malaria, and AIDS put together. While this may not all involve travellers who are children, the fact that diarrhoea can kill makes it serious enough to merit careful preparation.
As such, you need to be careful when travelling and drinking water, particularly when you’re not sure where water comes from. If you can, be sure to drink only bottled water bought directly from convenience stores or supplied by your hotel staff. You may also bring some water purification tablets with you if you want to be sure that you’ll have a last resort if the water source in the place you’re staying is really shady.
If you have certain types of allergies for food, drugs, insects, mould, pets, and pollen, then you better be sure that you have the right medication on hand or ready access to professional allergic reaction treatment in any place you’ll be travelling to.
Like diarrhoea, an allergic reaction can be quite fatal without immediate and appropriate medical intervention or medication.
The best way to do this is to bring with you whatever medicine you’re using for your specific allergy. If you have an allergy to a certain food, such as nuts or seafood, you must always politely ask the food server about the ingredients in the meals you’re being served. If the food happens to have the ingredient you’re allergic to, you must gently decline it and explain your situation.
Most hotels would be willing to offer special meals to people with certain food allergies at no extra charge. Knowing this, be sure to explore the option of informing the kitchen staff or management about it to be served meals that are guaranteed free of any ingredient you’re sure to have an allergic reaction to.
A zoonotic disease is caused by animal-to-human transmission and is another health emergency you need to be careful about and prepared for. Among the common diseases attributed to animals are malaria/dengue (mosquitoes), leptospirosis/hantavirus (mice/rats), rabies (dogs), avian flu (birds), and many others.
When you travel, you’re always exposed to these types of diseases, no matter how careful you may be. If your destination is in a tropical country or a place where sanitation is suspect, your risk of getting a zoonotic illness significantly increases.
One of the things you can do to lower your chances of getting infected with such a disease is to get vaccinated for the common zoonotic diseases present in the destination you’re visiting. Be sure to do quick research to gain prior knowledge about the possible zoonotic illness in the locations you have in your itineraries.
Likewise, you should consider bringing a first aid kit, some topical ointments that repel mosquitoes and insects, and medicines that have proven effective in providing quick relief from common animal-induced illnesses. The idea is to either minimize the risks or lower them while you’re waiting for professional healthcare services to arrive.
Food poisoning can occur regardless of where you’re staying, even in a five-star hotel. As such, you need to be extra cautious about the food you eat, especially in exotic locations where insects are the staple food.
When dining anywhere, be observant about the sanitary condition of the place and give particular attention to how the food is handled by the kitchen crew and the dining assistants. If you see that conditions are less than sanitary, that should be your signal to eat elsewhere.
Your safety and that of your companions are paramount in every travel. Just take note of these things, and you’ll be in a much safer situation.