Top health advice before heading on your holiday: 5 tips

Ingy Deif, Sunday 17 Aug 2014

The well-earned vacation with family or friends is a joy to look forward to. But travelling can bring its own health challenges that mar the holiday spirit. Ahram Online asked health experts for top travel tips

Photo: Reuters

For most Egyptians, August is the only month convenient for spending quality travel time with family and friends, taking a trip before gearing up for work, school or college. Unfortunately, leaving one's comfort zone is often associated with disturbances in sleep, eating patterns and other biological aspects, let alone the chance of contracting diseases in holiday destinations.

Two experts, Dr Iman Tolba, consultant in family medicine, and Dr Heba Sharabi, life coach and lecturer on sleep adjustment patterns, talked to Ahram Online about the complaints most reported from holiday experiences, rounding up the top health tips for travelers in five points.

Photo: Reuters

Counter the jet lag

One of the most common problems associated with long-distance flying is jet lag, which is responsible not only for difficulties in sleeping, but also for other problems such as diarrhea or constipation, an upset stomach, aches, and reduced alertness and concentration.

Although many resort to sleeping pills or caffeine to counter the problem, the following natural approaches can ease the symptoms and help you adjust without popping a pill:

— Try to conform to the proper timing of sleep by resisting drowsing in daylight, and by watching what you eat. Meals rich in protein will make you alert, as will salads and vegetables.

— Try to find rest by night time by avoiding caffeine, proteins, and indulging in carbohydrates and starch.

A common problem is the dry air in airplanes that affects the eyes. Anti-dehydration eyedrops are highly recommended. The dry air also might cause headaches and irritation in the nose and throat. The solution is to keep oneself hydrated as much as possible by drinking water and non-diuretic fluids.

Also remember to stretch in your seat or take a stroll every now and then, to prevent the occurrence of the rare but dangerous blood clots due to weak blood circulation.

Photo: Reuters

Gear up against insects

Insects, whether flying or crawling, can be a source of nuisance in some destinations, causing itchiness and sometimes allergies. Skin repellants are the most effective way of evading the hassle of treatment.

Note that those containing the ingredient "Deet" are the best, as they last longer. Avoid applying to broken skin, and don’t mix with sunblock.

For children, use products with low Deet content, and apply only once on sun exposed areas, not covered ones. Wash off when the children are no longer outdoors.

Photo: Reuters

Be prepared for motion

For many, motion sickness is no joke. The brain gets confused by the conflicting messages it receives from the eyes, ears and gastro intestines, which can cause nausea and vomiting. Here are four essential tips:

— Indulge in ginger tea, which is a miracle drink for those suffering from the problem.

— Avoid reading. Set your eyes on the horizon rather than near objects.

— Contrary to what you might think, eating a meal is good before hitting the road as it neutralises acids in the stomach, provided that it is a small meal containing some carbohydrates and vegetables. Avoid fizzy drinks.

— If you are one of those who suffer motion sickness on a plane, ask for a window seat above the wings.

Photo: Reuters

Know what is at stake where

Be aware of potential health risks at tour destinations. Ask about necessary vaccines, especially for hot or tropical countries. For those travelling from Egypt to another country, information on vaccines be found by contacting the nearest VACSERA outlet (the government-affiliated Holding Company for Biological Products and Vaccines).

Ask about the local water and be equipped with a kit containing basic medication for constipation, diarrhea, sore throats, mild fever, and a broad spectrum antibiotic.

Always practice good hygiene habits: wash your hands frequently, and always have a sanitiser within reach.

Ask your doctor for medicine that can boost your immune system before travelling. Also eat snacks or dairy products containing probiotics, which will increase the level of immunity in your digestive system.

Photo: Reuters

The other side of the sunny coin

Sunburn is among the most common complaints from trips involving long periods in the open or on beaches.

Always apply sunblock with a sunscreen factor of no less than 35 before exposure of more than 20 minutes, and protect your head by wearing a hat or another means of covering up.

In the case of sunburn, apply a lotion containing aloe vera, which contains active ingredients that speeds up the healing process.

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