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Travelling to Bali or Elsewhere? Here are the 5 Top Health Dangers to Prepare for...

Top 5 Health Scares for Travellers

Going on a holiday? Lucky you!

Whether you’re pursuing adventure in Bali or are more inclined to laze by the pool with an assortment of cocktails, each holiday poses dangers that can ruin your trip and put your health at serious risk.

Accidents and sickness can be even more probable on holiday because you’re exposing yourself to new and unfamiliar environments.

Before we jump into the top 5 travel health dangers to prepare for and our tips to prevent them, know that travelling whilst sick is never a good idea.

Follow these travel tips to avoid travel emergencies and the most common health risks.

#1 Traveller’s Diarrhoea (Bali Belly)

There’s nothing worse than being struck with an upset stomach when on holiday. You’re hoping to sample some new cuisine, kick back with some drinks and indulge in some treats, but instead find yourself hovelled over the toilet in pain or journeying around in constant discomfort, never knowing when the dreaded cramps will strike.

Despite best efforts, traveller’s diarrhoea, also known as “Bali Belly” amongst Perth Bali regulars, affects 40% of travellers to developing countries within the first two weeks of travel.

India, Bali, Vietnam, Thailand, and Nepal pose the biggest risk and are therefore locations where special care should be taken.

It’s vital to only consume sealed bottled water, even when brushing teeth and avoid consuming ice in any circumstances –  as tempting as it might be in such tropical temperatures. Avoiding any raw or under cooked meat, fish and vegetables is another way to lower your risk, along with having a hand sanitiser handy to use before meals. Your travel doctor can review further preventative measures depending on the region you are visiting and, in many cases, issue self-treatment packs containing prescription only medication so if the tummy terror does strike, you have effective relief on hand.

In case you do contract Traveller’s Diarrhoea, electrolyte powder will be your new best friend. This can be bought over-the-counter at any good pharmacy and will help to keep up your fluids.

If the diarrhoea is moderate to severe it is very helpful to take antibiotics. Most traveller’s diarrhoea is bacterial (unlike Australia where it is viral) so antibiotics work. Norfloxacin is the traditional one to use in South East Asia but resistance is now high to this antibiotic.

Rokeby GP will guide you to the most effective antibiotic to use. Additionally, depending on your health conditions, some antibiotics have considerable risk. Our doctors are well versed in guiding you through this.

#2 Respiratory Illnesses

Coughs, colds, and flu are commonly picked up from crowded areas such as airports, restaurants and public transport. Currently, an influenza vaccination is recommended to all travellers prior to taking a trip to Bali and Rokeby GP recommends all travellers have an annual flu vaccination, which typically becomes available from mid-April each year.

In addition, pack paracetamol and a hand sanitiser if you know a tap and soap won’t always be available. Frequent washing of hands with warm water and soap is one of the most underrated but effective preventative measures for avoiding the common cold and spread of germs.

#3 Dengue Fever

Dengue fever, and the lesser known Chikungunya Virus, are mosquito-borne illnesses becoming increasingly common in returning Australian travellers, particularly from Indonesia and other Southeast Asian countries. Unfortunately, there’s no vaccine, so you need to rely on basic insect precautions. Rokeby GP recommends the use of a good insect repellent containing the ingredient DEET, and wearing long-sleeved light coloured clothing when possible. Unfortunately, there is a danger of contracting Dengue Fever throughout the year. However, risk of transmission is higher from December to March in Bali.

Something to note is that the mosquitoes which transmit these viruses bite throughout the day(unlike malaria mosquitoes which bite at dawn and dusk) so you need to apply repellant throughout the day.

#4 Hepatitis A and Typhoid

Hepatitis A and Typhoid are serious diseases spread by contaminated food and water. Common to developing countries, it’s best to be extra wary as treatment is in some cases difficult due to the emergence of resistant bacteria. Prevention is the key here, and there is a safe and effective vaccine that is highly recommended for travel to Bali and other at-risk areas. Your travel doctor can review your vaccination history and help you assess what’s needed.

#5 Altitude Sickness

Consider yourself an adventure junkie or a bit of a trekker? Adventure travel is all the rage right now with many West Australians choosing to visit exotic destinations like Machu Picchu and the Inca trail, or attempt high altitude treks such as the Annapurna trail in Nepal.

Symptoms can be prevented by gradual acclimatisation, but with the limited time many people have for holidays, some symptoms are almost inevitable. Depending on your itinerary, your travel doctor can advise on the use of acetazolamide to help this process. In addition, we recommend you take care to always stay hydrated, pack ibuprofen, and be prepared to descend if necessary. Altitude sickness can develop into something very serious, even deadly, and shouldn’t be left as a last-minute consideration before or during a trip. Be prepared with an action plan and medication if it strikes.

Finally, if despite all your best planning and preparation you do feel unwell or fall ill during your trip, seek help sooner rather than later. Get yourself checked out ASAP! Seeking treatment as early as possible can prevent a minor issue from developing into something serious, such as a mild urinary infection progressing into your kidneys.

Staying healthy and safe while travelling is as much about proper preparation (with information and medication) before you jet off as it is taking precautions during your travels.

Almost Leaving for that Trip?

Book your travel consult with Rokeby GP travel clinic for personalised health and travel advice.

Call us now on 9381 4880 to book your travel consultation.


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