5 Common Travel Ailments and How to Treat Them

Don't let illness ruin your next vacation. Learn how to avoid or treat these five common travel ailments.

December 4, 2015
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Travel can often be incredibly invigorating for the mind, body, and soul, giving us a chance to escape normal life for a while and visit some truly beautiful and exotic destinations. On the other hand, while on the road we often find ourselves exposed to a wide variety of ailments, some of which have the potential to completely ruin a trip. Here are some of the most common travel bugs that you might encounter, and the best ways to treat them.

Diarrhea

Nothing can ruin a trip faster than the dreaded “Delhi belly” or “Montezuma’s Revenge” as it is known in some parts of the world. Usually contracted through drinking contaminated water, traveler’s diarrhea can be incredibly debilitating, draining the body of strength and energy. The best option is to try to avoid it altogether by drinking only bottled water, avoiding any contact with water from the tap, and even being careful not to swallow any in the shower as well. But if you do become sick, be sure to stay hydrated, use an anti-diarrheal such as Imodium, and get plenty of rest. If the condition persists, you may need to use antibiotics to knock out the bacteria in your body.

Sunburn and Heat Stroke

Other common illnesses that travelers can experience include sunburn and heat stroke, both of which are due to the over exposure to the sun. Sunburn usually results in hot, very sensitive skin that can be painful and make you feel extremely uncomfortable. It can also lead to a fever, but is otherwise more annoying than dangerous. Heat stroke, on the other hand, can be much more serious, sometimes leading to exhaustion, dizziness, rapid heart rate, difficulty breathing, nausea, and even loss of consciousness. You can avoid either condition by limiting your exposure to the sun, and avoid being too active in excessive heat and humidity. Staying hydrated can help too, and a cold shower or bath can be beneficial in reducing the symptoms. When treating sunburn, cooling lotions and ibuprofen can help lower skin temperatures as well.

Sore Throat

Long flights mean lots of recycled air in the cabin of your plane, not to mention a greater potential of exposure to a virus being carried by another passenger. This can often lead to a sore throat, runny nose, or other conditions that are similar to the common cold. While this isn’t the kind of ailment that is likely to ruin your vacation, it can make things less than ideal, causing you to feel under the weather and not get the most of your travel experience. Be sure to drink plenty of fluids, get some extra rest, and use ibuprofen to help manage any lingering soreness. Throat lozenges can help be soothing too.

Food Poisoning

Another common ailment that can strike at home or abroad is food poisoning. Generally caused by contaminated food, this is one affliction that is tough to avoid as it can happen just about anywhere. You can limit your chances of exposure however by eating at finer establishments, ones that come highly recommended, or have good reputations. Definitely avoid places that look unkempt or poorly maintained. Once again, staying hydrated can help ease discomfort, but generally the symptoms (nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, etc.) will subsist over time. Until they do, stick to a simple, bland diet, and don’t exert yourself too much.

Insect Bites

While insect bites are not uncommon in most part of the world, some are much more dangerous than others. For instance, mosquitoes in many developing countries carry malaria and yellow fever, both of which can be potentially life-threatening. If you’re traveling to a part of the world where this is a concern, be sure to research ahead of time the risks you’ll face, and get the proper medications and vaccinations prior to departure.

Also, wear clothing that covers most of your body, and apply insect repellent when visiting particularly difficult places. Other bug bites and stings can usually be treated with topical ointments or even rubbing alcohol, but extra steps are needed to protect yourself from more dangerous threats such as these.

As you can tell, the best way to enjoy the perfect travel experience is to avoid getting any of these illnesses at all. But since that isn’t always easy to do, hopefully these suggestions for how to treat the particular ailment will come in handy should the need arise. The best bet is to get as much rest as possible, drink plenty of water, and don’t over exert yourself. Before you know it, you’ll be back on your feet and back to enjoying your adventure.

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