When Sickness Strikes

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The unpleasant side to travel

I hate being ill not only does it spoil my day but it throws my schedule off too. I Have no idea what has caused it and when it’ll go away. It started with stomach cramps that felt like I had been kicked and then the Deli Belly.

I’m currently in a country where it’s not safe to drink the water. It is supposed to be desalinated but occasionally comes out of the tap brown like there’s sand in it, or worse. The water maybe okay but it seems like the plumbing isn’t. I could have digested some when I was having a shower. A month ago I had mouth ulcers and stopped cleaning my teeth with tap water and started using bottled water, the problem soon went away.

There is also a huge population of mosquitos here and although no local reporting of the Zika virus in the news, it is here. Then there’s the possibility of other infections transmitted by mosquitos. After all if someone with a virus is bitten by a mosquito and then it moves on to its next victim. Who knows?

My diet hasn’t changed and others have eaten the same things at the same time so I doubt that is the issue. I don’t drink alcohol in any large quantity. I’ve had one glass of wine in the past month.

I obviously need to keep an eye on my habits and try to prevent future incidents. Here’s an article I have read on being ill whilst away, a good read and one I shall be taking advice from.

HOW TO DEAL WITH THE ‘TRAVELLERS TUMMY’

Trying out the food of a destination you’re visiting is something that all travellers love doing. Learning the different cooking techniques around the world and tickling our taste buds can be really exciting. But there is always that villain who spoil all the fun. In this case it is the bacteria called E.Coli that attacks your intestines leading to an upset tummy. But this is not the only reason why you can get sickness and diarrhea. Read on to find out how to prevent and treat yourself against this condition.

Symptoms

While vomiting, stomach cramps, feeling nauseous are mild in most cases. There are cases that have serious consequences like severe dehydration and malnutrition. So it is better to deal with this condition with proper medical care as soon as possible. The World Health Organisation has reported that around 70% Travellers have reported to have encountered sickness and diarrhea during their trips.

Reasons

A popular rumour is people telling you to drink a lot of water before flying. The reason is that the humidity inside a flight is just 20% which is a lot less when compared with the normal humidity (40%-70%). This can lead to a sore throat and a feeling of uneasiness in your stomach. So it is important to keep yourself hydrated during the flight. This is unlikely to make you sick though.

The main reason is usually improper food handling and consumption of contaminated water. I know it is hard to avoid the street food in some places but this can be the main reason for an upset stomach.

Other reasons include stress, lack of sleep and exposing yourself to a new climate.

Prevention

You don’t have to completely avoid local food and eat just the familiar food. Instead pay attention to the temperature it is served. Always eat hot and freshly cooked meals. Avoid buffet and cold meat platters. Avoid eating fish during your trip as fish easily accumulate contaminants and not many eateries clean them properly before cooking.

Avoid salads, ketchup, mayonnaise that are not sealed.

Always have fruits and vegetable that you can wash and peel yourself.

When choosing a restaurant go where the locals go. The more people the better would indicate the quality of the place. Eat street food occasionally but don’t make it your daily diet just because it is cheap.

Always buy bottled water and avoid drinking water from anywhere else. Avoid having ice cubes in your drink if possible and don’t shower with your mouth open.

Treatment

Sometimes even if you follow all the preventive measures there is a chances that the bacteria can enter your system. So it would be a great to know how to treat yourself when you feel the symptoms appearing.

Loperamide or Pepto-Bismsol can help reducing the symptoms but make note that they will not cure you completely. But they do come real handy when you are in a situation where you don’t have access to restrooms. Sometimes laxatives are a good cure because it flushes your system out. I would stay near a toilet though until the symptoms fade.

Staying hydrated should be your main priority. Try using Oral Re-hydration salts. Simply mix the powder in your water bottle and stay hydrated.

Usually the symptoms don’t last more than 2 days as long as you can keep yourself hydrated and away from contaminated food. You can also use antibiotics prescribed by a doctor. These can help in a speedy recovery. Also antibiotics differ according to the location you are visiting, so make sure you mention your destination to the doctor.

If the symptoms get worse and are showing no signs of reducing, then pass over all these treatments and better consult a local clinic.

You have to be on the alert when you are traveling to developing or under-developed countries where the sanitation and hygiene standards are below par. One such place is New Delhi, the capital of India, notorious for giving the travellers an upset tummy or as Travellers call it ‘The Delhi Belly’. If you have traveled through India then there are chances that you might have been a victim to this or at least met someone who has.

Traveling with your guard up all the time can spoil the fun. So give yourself some space, have fun, enjoy the local food and keep your medicines close.


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About John Holt

John Holt has worked in the travel industry for over 14 years and comes highly recommended by Trip Advisor for his practical and candid talks on travel destinations. Spending 18 months as a "Local Interest Specialist" for a leading tour operator John has become known as having more practical information than Google.

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