More and more people are traveling the world, which can be a highly personally enriching experience but can also open you up to a wide array of infectious bacteria. Many factors, like the quality of the water available, the climate you are in and the humidity percentage all contribute to the spread and proliferation of different viruses. If you are planning a trip to an unfamiliar or particularly distant region, you should understand all of the health risks you are taking, as well as educate yourself on how to best preserve your health.
Will the Environment Affect Me?
When you think of the health risks you might face when traveling, infectious diseases are what you most likely imagine. While yes, infectious diseases that travel from person to person are definitely something you want to guard against, your environment can also play a large role in your overall health. If the area that you are traveling to is known for its heat and humidity, many people face heatstroke or damage from the ultraviolet rays of the sun. In a hot, humid environment many parasites and bacteria thrive. Protect your intestinal health as well as regulate the temperature of your body.
How is the water?
It is a sad fact of life that many places do not have tap water that is safe for most people's immune systems. To protect yourself from waterborne microbes that can wreak havoc on your system, choose bottled water when it is available. If it is not, boiling tap water is usually enough to make it safe for ingestion. If you do not have access to a heat source, there are a number of water purification tablets available now that are small enough to fit in a pocket and are really effective against microorganisms that may cause cholera, typhus and giardia. To prevent these ailments, thoroughly clean any water you drink, use for cooking, or use to brush your teeth.
What about the food?
For many of us, a small stomach bug may mean a day or two of nausea, and an extra-long nap. However, when you are traveling, being comfortable while dealing with severe stomach cramps, vomiting, and diarrhea are a lot harder. Making sure the water you drink is clean and free of bacteria is one great way to guard against stomach ailments, but you should also be on guard around food. While packaged food may be safe, inspect food preparation processes and rely on reviews from locals before trying a delicacy.
What if I Have to go to the Hospital?
While the quality of the healthcare may not be what you are used to, rest assured that many hospitals all over the world are able to get you to a full recovery. Did you know that travel insurance can protect your health as well as your itinerary? Click here to find out more about travel insurance. It can be comforting to know that for a small fee, you can have any treatments you might need when traveling completely covered. There are many types available, so it is certain you can find one that fits your needs.
What if I have an Accident?
Did you know that traffic collisions are the single most common cause of death for those who are traveling internationally? Many of the deaths occur in countries that are still developing, as their trauma care procedure is not fully formed yet. In a lot of these countries, the traffic laws are not properly enforced, leading to greater danger when on the roads. It is best to find alternate means of transportation if you must travel by road. However, if you have to go by car, there are some practical measures you can take to ensure your safety. The first and most important is to educate yourself about the laws in whatever area you are in. You will also want to inspect the car and make sure everything is working as it should be. As with any country, you never want to travel in a car with a driver who has been drinking alcohol, or operate a vehicle if you have been drinking.
Will I get attacked?
Especially in developing countries, violence against a person is more likely to happen. If a region is known for their alcohol consumption or illicit drug use, the chances of experiencing a violent encounter are likewise increased. Especially where alcohol and drugs are present, you want to avoid getting involved in an argument that could turn physical. You will also want to stay vigilant against the chance of muggings in the day as well as at night. If you are going to a particularly remote area, hire a local interpreter or guide to help you out of any misunderstandings.
What about my Mental Health?
Traveling is often recommended as a relaxing way to improve your mental health, but the truth is that it can be exhausting. The stress of being away from any sort of support network, as well as having to adapt to new customs and even a whole new currency is just too much even for the healthiest among us. Even if a mental disorder never emerged before travel, the stress involved in it may exacerbate predispositions toward a disease or disorder. You should also be aware that the standard of mental care may vary from country to country. If you start to feel a little stressed, take a mental day just to relax and enjoy the scenery of another country. This is usually sufficient to recharge.
Traveling around the world may open up a lot of new horizons for you, but it can also open your body up to a lot of risk from various diseases. While you are planning your trip, it can be helpful to educate yourself on the diseases commonly known to affect travelers to your chosen part of the world. The dangers can come from a lot of different sources, so it is important to be on your guard.