Traveling is an important aspect to break the monotony in a person’s life. In today’s world the mad rush and work pressure make people worn out and drained. There is no time left to ponder what the basic values of life are. Traveling gives the space to relax and come back home with refreshed outlook and zeal.
However, the excitement of traveling may sometimes be marred by different types of health problems. The simple knowledge of taking few health precautions can make your travel more exciting and pleasurable. Below are given few common health problems that people may encounter while they travel and how to protect from these diseases.
Causes And Symptoms Of Common Travelers Diseases
- Cholera: Cholera is still infectious disease prevalent in some parts of world, especially in certain parts of Asia, Africa and South America. People traveling in such areas should be careful what and where they eat and drink, because cholera is spread from feco- oral route. It is spread by bacteria which breed in food and drinks contaminated by sewage of cholera patients. The symptoms of cholera are severe vomiting and watery diarrhea. The stools are like rice water and profuse. There is severe dehydration, muscle cramps and extreme thirst. If not treated in time with antibiotics and fluid replacement, it can be life threatening.
- Dysentery: The symptoms of dysentery are severe diarrhea with cramps. Presence of mucus and blood in stool are its characteristic features. Amoebic dysentery is caused by parasites and is often found in tropical countries. It is spread by eating contaminated food and drinks and poor hygiene practice. Bacterial dysentery is caused due to different bacteria. The mode of spread is same. The symptoms appear within days once bacteria enter the gut. Stomach cramps, bloody diarrhea, vomiting and cramps are its common symptom together with dehydration. Antibiotics and fluid replacement are main line treatment. If medical help is far away, you can replenish the lost fluids by drinking re-hydration solution. Dissolve 4 tablespoon of sugar and 1 teaspoon of salt in one liter of water. Boil and cool the mixture and drink it liberally. At least this will prevent dehydration till you seek medical help. There is no vaccine available for dysentery.
- Hepatitis A: Hepatitis A is common in developing countries. It is a viral disease. The liver is damaged in this disease. Lack of hygiene and poor sanitation are two main causes for the spread of disease. The spread is again through contaminated food and drinks. Drinking untreated water and unpasteurized milk, eating undercooked and raw food, or swimming in water polluted with sewage water are main reasons of hepatitis A infection. Vomiting, lack of appetite, pain in upper part of abdomen, jaundice, fever are some its symptoms. Though rarely fatal disease, it prolongs for long time. People should take hepatitis A vaccine before traveling to places where the disease is common. There is no specific medicine for viral hepatitis A. Patient is advised to eat high carbohydrate and low fat diet to replenish the body with energy and required micro-nutrients. Vegetable juice, fruit juices in the beginning of disease are of much value. Alcohol in any case should be avoided.
- Typhoid: The disease is caused by salmonella typhi bacteria. Its mode of transmission is through eating contaminated food and drinks with feces of typhoid victims. It is more prevalent in Middle East, Asia and Africa. The symptoms are fever high grade, vomiting, stomach pain, red rash, weakness etc. Antibiotics and fluids replacement helps fast recovery. Since vaccine is available, person visiting places where typhoid is prevalent should be vaccinated few months prior to their journey.
- Yellow fever: It is spread by mosquito bites. Yellow fever is present in tropical parts of Africa. People going to such place should be vaccinated against yellow fever. It is a virus disease and has high fatality rate. The symptoms are fever, chills, body ache and jaundice. Hence it is called yellow fever.
- Malaria: It is also spread by mosquito bites. Malaria is prevalent in many parts of the world. Make sure to find out if the disease is endemic in area where you travel. There is no vaccine against malaria, but if you intend to visit malaria borne places, consult your doctor for prescription of anti malarial tablets which he may advise you to take one week before your travel and for four weeks after you return back home. The symptoms of malaria are high fever, body ache, shivering, headache and delirium. It needs to be treated with promptly because at times the disease may become fatal.
How To Prevent Diseases While Traveling?
- While traveling to such places people should consult their doctors for available vaccines as it gives protection against the disease. Visit your doctor at least two months before your travel, for necessary immunization.
- Avoid eating undercooked food or food exposed to flies.
- Avoid eating food served by street vendors.
- Drink boiled or bottled water. Always check if the seal is intact.
- Peel raw fruits before eating them.
- Avoid putting ice in your drinks as it may be made from untreated tap water.
- While swimming avoid gulping water, especially in lakes and streams unless you are assured it is safe.
- Avoid drinking unpasteurized milk.
- Eat shell fish or fish only in reputable hotels and restaurants.
- Wear long sleeve shirts and trousers to protect from mosquito bites. Use mosquito repellants on exposed parts of skin. Burn mosquito coils while sleeping.