Hooray, it’s almost time to start thinking about summer vacations! What’s on your packing list? Sunglasses, a swimsuit, and a great book probably top the list, but what about your health?
Going on vacation could leave you vulnerable to infectious diseases, digestive problems, skin cancer, heat stroke, and sexually transmitted diseases.
Any time you’re packing up for a holiday away from your regular routine, it’s important to take a moment to consider how you’ll stay healthy, so you can make the most of your trip.
Did you know that over 60 percent of us get sick while on vacation? This is because of all the new foods, different weather conditions, lack of sleep and unfamiliar microbes we can encounter while we’re traveling.
Here are some of the main risks that could ruin your trip, and some ideas for preventing them.
There are many sources of bacteria, viruses and parasites that you might encounter while traveling.
Swimming pool and hot tub water is known to harbor a parasite called cryptosporidium, which can cause diarrhea, stomach cramping, vomiting, and fever. The parasite can live for up to 10 days, even if a pool is well-cleaned and treated with chlorine. The infection is said to spread via other ill people using the pool, through fecal bacteria.
While swimming, avoid swallowing any water, and be sure to shower before and after. Encourage children to take toilet breaks and don’t use the pool if you have diarrhea.
Contaminated food and drinks
Food and drinks can also present hazards. More than 1 in 10 American travelers report that they experience food poisoning related to travel.
While it’s impossible to completely avoid invading microbes while you’re traveling, there are some ways you can prevent them from making you ill.
Avoid drinking tap water and go for bottled instead. Ensure that cooked food is piping hot (especially at buffets). If you want to eat raw fruits and vegetables, ensure they have not been rinsed with contaminated water.
Carrying natural remedies such as garlic, ginger, cinnamon and essential oils with you can help fight any parasites that you may encounter while traveling.
Many people get sunburnt on vacation. Besides making your remaining vacation uncomfortable (and the photos unflattering!), those who have had five or more sunburns double the risk of developing deadly forms of skin cancer in the future.
While a moderate amount of sun exposure is extremely healthy, keep it to shorter periods, and cover up or relax in the shade to avoid getting burnt. If you’re using sunscreen, choosing a variety with the old-school zinc oxide as the active ingredient is healthiest. Many newer sunblock creams are extremely toxic.
If you’ve ever experienced nausea or a headache from being out in the sun, you’ve had heatstroke. This is a dangerous condition where your body is unable to regulate its core temperature.
Make sure children are protected from the sun and stay well hydrated. For yourself, avoid alcoholic drinks, as these will not properly hydrate you to ward off heat stroke.
Avoid health risks
Most of the health risks of travel are easily avoided if you just take a little time to prepare. Build up your immune system before leaving so that you’re more likely to have a great time with no unexpected challenges. Eat a whole food diet and take a high-quality probiotic to help build your defenses.
– Dr. Joshua Levitt