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Preparation is key when it comes to travel-related illnesses

All set for the holidays this summer? In the rush to get everything organized before you leave, it is sometimes easy to lose track of taking basic precautions. There is nothing worse than getting to your holiday destination and being struck down with a travel-related illness – which is more common than you think. Valarie Harmon, our Senior Consultant from Infection Prevention and Control at Sidra has some top tips for travelers this summer.

“While most travel-related illnesses are minor and can be treated with over the counter medication there are also some very serious infectious diseases that are common in some parts of the world. All travelers should be prepared for travel and take measures to protect themselves. After all, you really want to enjoy your break than lose precious time nursing a travel bug!”

Preparing before you travel:

  • It helps to go for a regular medical check-up before you travel to make sure you are healthy and fit enough to undertake the trip.
  • Paying for travel insurance is highly recommended and include medical cover if you need to be evacuated to a suitable hospital. This is particularly relevant if you are going to a destination that does not have access to healthcare facilities in the vicinity.
  • Research your holiday destination – there are several trusted government websites that will list endemics in particular countries.
  • Always check travel vaccination requirements and whether you need to get shots for Hepatitis A, Yellow Fever, Polio or Malaria. This is also extremely important for young children, who are very susceptible.
  • Some vaccinations need to be taken weeks or months before travel – best to see your doctor now if you are planning on travelling in the next four to six weeks.
  • It is always handy to keep a pack of first aid essentials – including medication, painkillers, antiseptics and insect repellents. Take enough for you and the family.
  • Also consider taking anti-diarrhoea pills and rehydration sachets.

Heading for your holiday:

  • If you are going on a long haul flight – remember to stretch your legs, walk around when possible and drink lots of water.
  • Being in a small confined place like an airplane can increase the risk of contracting germs – carry hand sanitizers and wet wipes, which are particularly useful when travelling with young kids.
  • You can still get sunburnt or heat exhaustion in climes where the sun isn’t as scorching as Doha during summer. Make sure you slather on sunscreen whether you are heading to the beach or shopping and always keep hydrated.
  • The most common travel-related bugs and illnesses are gastrointestinal diseases. These can be picked up from eating food that is not prepared in hygienic conditions or from untreated water. Best to buy bottled water and avoid fresh fruits and vegetables that have been washed in untreated tap water.

We hope everyone traveling this summer has a stress-free, relaxed and fun holiday!