Five Common Travellers’ Health Problems… and How to Avoid Them!
Travel is one of life’s great pleasures; and if you’ve booked an exciting trip abroad this year, you’ll want to get the most out of your experience. However, sometimes health problems can get in the way of having a good time and turn a great trip into a holiday you’d rather forget.
Here are some of the most common travel problems affecting people over the age of 50. Let’s look at how to avoid them.
Five Most Common Travel Health Problems
- Deep Vein Thrombosis. Deep Vein Thrombosis, often called DVT for short, is a relatively common condition, which affects approximately 1 in 1000 people each year in the UK. DVT can cause swelling and pain in the legs, and in severe cases, can result in a pulmonary embolism. Regrettably, chances of getting DVT when you’re flying increase with age. However, there are things you can do to help reduce your risk of encountering this problem when you fly. Get up and have a walk as often as you’re able to during the flight; and when you’re not able to move, keep rotating your ankles and stretching your calf muscles to boost circulation. If you feel you’re particularly at risk, invest in some specialist below-the-knee compression stockings to wear during the flight.
- Sun damage. Although you’re at risk of sunburn and sunstroke whatever your age, when you’re older, the signs of skin damage will be more evident. You’re also at higher risk of developing malignant melanoma if you’re too exposed to harmful UV rays. The solution is simple. Stay covered up wherever possible; and avoid being out in the midday sun, when UV rays are at their most intense. A wide-brimmed hat will also help protect you, and when using sun-cream, make sure to buy one with a SPF of 15 or higher.
- Stomach problems. You’re particularly at risk of developing the dreaded ‘traveller’s tummy’ if you’re travelling to a less developed country. Although attacks of gastric distress and diarrhoea are generally short-lived, they’re miserable to endure, and best avoided where possible. Don’t eat food from street-stalls, and make sure you avoid food that hasn’t been cooked, such as salad or raw vegetables. It’s also important to only drink bottled water.
- Researchers from Oxford University and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine discovered that those over the age of 65 were more likely to experience severe complications or death after contracting malaria. The extensive data, which covered 20 years in total, was based on statistics taken from 25,000 patients. Those over the age of 65 were found to be over twice as likely to die from the disease. Thankfully, malaria is easy to avoid. Firstly, it’s important to find out whether the country you’re visiting has any risk of malaria or not. If it does, you’ll need to purchase some anti-malarial medication, which can be taken during your travels.
- Jet lag. Jet lag is common, particularly if you’re travelling across multiple time-zones; and it’s more likely you’ll experience it the older you get. It can make getting to sleep very difficult and can leave you feeling irritable or tired. Although symptoms are only temporary, you can help reduce them by eating meals according to the time zone you’ll be landing in (rather than the one you’ve just left!) and getting exposure to sunlight. It’s advisable to avoid drinking alcohol during this time too and to stay hydrated.
Finally, if you are travelling abroad in the near future, don’t forget the basics such as travel insurance. Remember to be thorough in filling in your medical details and history as, if something happened and you needed to call on the cover to provide care, you need to be reassured that cover is guaranteed. If you are injured on holiday, you may also need to rely on the local health facilities and the peace of mind that insurance brings, is very valuable.
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