No one wants to fall ill while on holiday – especially if you’re going abroad. Here are some useful tips from medics to make sure you enjoy your break without any health emergencies
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It’s summer, which means many across the country are all set to head off on a much-need holiday.
After the past two years of being stuck at home due to Covid restrictions, most of us can’t wait for a quick getaway.
While we usually have everything planned, one thing we often neglect to consider when it comes to holiday is the chance of falling ill during our time in the sun.
It’s not something any of us want – to have a holiday we’ve looked forward to ruined by upset bellies or sudden allergies.
Here are some tips from doctors to protect your health while on holiday.
Avoid triggering allergies on a plane
Dr Deborah Lee of online pharmacy DrFox advises us to try and book a window seat on the plane, as they are “the cleanest”.
She recommends wiping the tray table and seat buckle with a sanitised wipe, and also redirecting the overhead air vent away from your face to avoid germs being blown directly on to you.
She adds: “I also drink lots of water during the flight as staying hydrated boosts the immune system.”
She also recommends drinking some herbal tea mid-flight as the steam moisturises our nasal passages, making them more effective at keeping out germs.
Tackle bites or burns
Sharon Copeland, optician at Feel Good Contacts, says that a jar of Sudocrem is a must-have in your holiday kit as this helps soothe any bites, stings or burns.
She also suggests carrying lubricating eye drops to use on the flight to combat dry eyes and pack an extra pair of sunglasses – just in case.
Get rid of bedbugs
Chemist Dr Tim Bond advises that we invest in anti-pest fabric sprays that we can spray on to the mattress, bed frames and any soft fabrics around the room we’re staying in during the holiday.
These sprays are effective not only to kill any bedbugs, fleas, dust mites or house pests that might be hiding away in the room, but also prevent re-infestation.
Protect your gut
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Dr Sarah Brewer recommends taking probiotics in the run-up and during your trip away as this helps protect against stomach bugs picked up from activities like swimming or from local food.
She recommends consuming artichoke extract as this helps aid digestion, especially while travelling.
Watch out for traveller’s tummy
We’ve all heard of nightmare situations dealing with a sick tummy on holiday. Dr Kathyrn Basford of ZAVA UK warns not to buy drinks with ice in them, as this ice may be made with contaminated tap water.
Instead, make sure to carry a bottle of water with you whenever you head out.
Dr Basford also reminds us to check the type of food we’re eating. It’s best to buy piping hot food – which indicates it’s freshly made – or fruits that you can peel yourself to prevent the spread of any bacteria.
Stock up on meds
If you pack any medication, make sure to stow them in your hand luggage instead of your suitcase – although check the local laws of the country you are travelling to, as some have rules against certain prescription medicine.
Superintendent pharmacist Phil Day at Pharmacy2U adds: “I also tell anyone taking regular medication to take a copy of their repeat prescription list to show any local healthcare professionals in case of emergency.”
A holiday is meant to be a break away from all the stress, so make sure you’re not overdoing it while you’re on the trip.
Therapist Marisa Peer suggests we prepare as much as possible in advance – make a list of everything you want to do there, “then cut that list in half”, she advises.
By doing only half of what you planned, you’re giving yourself time to rest and recharge rather than just rush around from one tourist spot to another.
Know where to get help
No matter how many steps we take to protect ourselves from falling ill, sometimes it just happens. So it’s important that we know where we can get help and whom we can ask.
Reshma Malde, superintendent pharmacist at John Bell & Croyden, says: “Whenever I check into a hotel, I make a mental note of who is on the front desk and whether there’s a concierge service to call if I or anyone I was travelling with fell ill.”
She adds that it’s important to check our travel insurance is up-to-date and covers us for the country we’re visiting.