Travel Health - Precautions Along the Way
disease presents a big risk while you are traveling, you should also be aware
of potential sources of injury. Bad roads, poor driver training, and crowded
roadways can make driving dangerous in other countries. Motor
vehicle accidents are a leading cause of injury among travelers. Learn local driving customs, road signs, and how to navigate unfamiliar traffic
patterns, including driving on the left side of the road and using roundabouts
or traffic circles. If possible, travel during daylight. And always use seat
belts. If you are hiring a driver (such as in a taxi), ask
the driver to slow down or drive more carefully if you feel unsafe. When riding
motorcycles or bicycles, wear helmets and protective clothing.
Take care around dogs and other animals. Dogs in developing countries are
often not tame and may bite.
Rabies is more common in tropical and subtropical
regions. If you are bitten by an animal, wash the bite with soap and water and
seek medical attention immediately.
Most wounds sustained in
developing countries carry a higher risk of becoming infected. If you get even
a minor wound, clean the wound as soon as possible with large amounts of warm
water and soap. Apply antibiotic ointment and a bandage. But it is good to know
that in some people, antibiotic ointments (such as Neosporin) can cause an
allergic reaction that looks just like a wound infection that is getting
If you haven't had a
tetanus shot in 5 years, a
booster dose is recommended following an animal bite
or an injury that results in a break in the skin.
Altitude sickness happens when you can't get enough
oxygen from the air at high altitudes. This causes symptoms such as a headache
and loss of appetite. It happens most often when people who are not used
to high altitudes go quickly from lower altitudes to
8000 ft (2438 m) or higher.
Initial symptoms may feel like a hangover, with a headache, fatigue, loss of
appetite, nausea, and vomiting. If symptoms become worse or include confusion,
an unsteady gait (ataxia), or faintness, a traveler must
go to a low altitude as fast as possible to avoid death. To avoid getting
- Do not fly directly from low altitudes to high
altitudes. Try to schedule at least a 1-day stopover at an in-between altitude.
Examples of high-altitude cities are Cuzco, Peru; La Paz, Bolivia; and Lhasa,
Tibet. After arrival, avoid overexertion, large meals, and alcohol.
- When trekking, climb gradually to high altitudes, allowing for
periods of adaptation.
- If you have heart or lung disease or
anemia, ask your doctor's advice before deciding to
travel to a high altitude.
- Medicines such as acetazolamide
(Diamox) or dexamethasone may be prescribed by your doctor along with
instructions on how to use them.
- Eat a lot of carbohydrates. This includes breads, cereals, grains,