Travel

How to stay healthy when you travel

You're on your big adventure. But unforeseen illness can quickly derail your itinerary.

Here are some tips to deal with the five most common issues travellers face.

WINTER ITCH

If you constantly suffer from irritated and dry skin in chilly climates, Dr Robyn Gmyrek, a US dermatologist, says you should take lukewarm, not hot, showers.

If that seems unbearable after a long day in the freezing cold, keep bath times short and limit the amount of soap used.

You can also swop tropical-weather moisturisers for petroleum jelly instead.

It may seem odd to apply this all over your body and face, but it will greatly improve your comfort and hydration level in a snap.

HEAT EXHAUSTION

Coming from somewhere sunny, it is easy to let our guard down with this dangerous condition that can cause nausea, dizziness, cramps and fainting.

Be sure to drink lots of fluids (not alcoholic or caffeinated beverages, which can dehydrate you), wear a wide-brimmed hat and apply sunscreen regularly.

Avoid getting sunburnt as it can reduce your body's natural ability to shed heat, according to a Mayo Clinic report.

COLD AND FLU

If you're prone to these conditions, before and during the trip, up your intake of soluble fibre to boost immunity, says a study from the University of Illinois. Good sources include apples, oats and nuts.

Already down with symptoms? Vitamin C and elderberry extract (available as a supplement) have been proven to reduce the severity and duration of each bout.

GERMS ON THE PLANE

After each flight, the cleaning crew does its best to sanitise the plane, but there are spots where germs can linger.

According to a report presented at an annual meeting for the American Society for Microbiology, staph bacteria, which can cause boils and food poisoning, linger as long as a week in seat pockets.

The tummy-turning E. coli can stay on armrests for up to four days.

Wipe down these spots or better yet, avoid touching them altogether.

FOOD POISONING

According to the US Centers For Disease Control And Prevention, 30 to 70 per cent of tourists may experience food poisoning, making it one of the most common travel-related conditions to watch out for.

The old adage "boil it, cook it, peel it or forget it" may be helpful but going a step further, it is also a good idea to have hand sanitisers to get rid of germs on grubby mitts, especially when there is no soap or water around.

When you are ordering food, avoid ice, uncooked food, dishes that have been sitting out for hours and vendors who do not wash their hands or put on gloves after handling money.

Taken from Shape, the 
only women's health and fitness magazine in Singapore.

It is now available in 
both print and digital formats.

Visit www.shape.com.sg to subscribe.

travelhealthILLNESSES