Autor Giusi - 24 April 2012 21:17
As our thoughts turn to summer holidays in the sun, Raj Aggarwal gives valuable advice about how to prevent ill health abroad
THOUSANDS will travel abroad this year in pursuit of guaranteed summer sun but many of us will be more concer-
ned about flight delays, missing luggage and looking for the right book for the beach than taking some simple steps to prevent typical holiday ills.
Of those who will fall ill while on holiday this year, 90% of complaints will be stomach related.
A stomach upset with diarrhoea is often the result of consuming contaminated food or water. Particular food hazards include shellfish, reheated rice and uncooked vegetables ľ salads and fruit, unless theyĺre very carefully washed in uncontaminated water. Cook it, boil it, peel it or leave it is a good rule to follow.
Good hygiene is also essential, so always remember to wash your hands and keep your kitchen and bathroom areas very clean.
Including oral re-hydration sachets in your first aid kit is a good idea ľ just in case.
The pain and discomfort resulting from a deep vein thrombosis (DVT) can not only ruin a holiday but also have much more serious consequences, such -
as pulmonary embolism ľ a blood clot in the lungs.
Travellers can reduce the risk of developing a DVT by doing leg and calf exercises every half-hour during the journey or to walk about if possible. Loose clothing should be worn from the waist down.
To prevent dehydration, drink plenty of water or fruit juices and avoid alcoholic and caffeinated drinks during the flight.
The risk of DVT can also be reduced by wearing compression socks (class one support socks), which can be purchased from a pharmacy.
If you have had a stroke or major surgery in the last three months, a previous DVT or have cancer, then anticoagulant medication may also be necessary. Your pharmacist will be able to advise and refer you to your GP if necessary.
Anyone taking regular medication needs to ensure they have enough for the time they will be away. If you are on prescription medication, ask your doctor to write a prescription to cover the period you are on holiday.
Ask your pharmacist to write down the generic names of any medicines you are taking regularly and take a copy of the repeat prescription slip or a letter from your doctor confirming what prescribed medication you are on. This will help medical staff abroad should you happen to lose your medication for some reason or are taken ill.
If you are taking non-prescription medication, your pharmacist can advise on taking extra supplies. It is also advisable to check with the relevant embassy, as there are restrictions on taking certain medicines into another country, for example medicines containing the painkiller codeine cannot be taken into the United Arab Emirates or Greece as itĺs against the law.
For those not so used to travelling, travel sickness can sometimes take the edge of their enjoyment.
Also known as motion sickness, itĺs not just confined to travelling by car, bus, boat or aeroplane but can also occur on swings or fairground amusements.
It is believed that motion sickness is the result of mixed messages being sent to the brain by the eyes and the middle ear.
If youĺre travelling below deck in a boat, for instance, your eyes are telling you that you are not moving, while the balance mechanisms in your ear are telling the brain that you are moving.
This often leads to a feeling of disorientation and of feeling generally queasy and unwell. Anti-sickness remedies will contain ingredients such as hyoscine and antihistamines. The tablets are most effective if taken before your journey commences and your pharmacist can advise you on this.
If you know that you suffer from travel sickness then it is better to take the tablet in advance of the journey rather than to wait until symptoms start.
Some travel tablets unfortunately do produce side effects such as drowsiness or a dry mouth.
Alcohol should be avoided while taking travel tablets and tablets can interact with other medicines you may be taking, so ask your pharmacist for advice on the best product for you.
The National Pharmacy Association provides guidance to all its member pharmacies on the malaria prevention and vaccination requirements for all countries in the world.
If you are heading to far off places this summer then your local pharmacy can provide the information you need to ensure you have a safe trip.
In addition to advice and appropriate medication, pharmacies can provide you with a full range of products to support your trip, ranging from travel insurance through to a simple insect repellent.
Hopefully, the sun will shine for all of us, but remember, if you do end up suffering from any ailments this summer then making a trip to see your local pharmacist should be your first course of action.
By following some simple steps and doing a bit of prep work you can make your holiday one to remember for the right reasons instead of the wrong.
Raj Aggarwal runs Central Pharmacy in Cardiff, and is a board member of the National Pharmacy Association and Community Pharmacy Wales
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