Aside from considering sun protection, customers may have a lot more to think about before they jet off on their holidays. Here are some of the most common health concerns they may ask for advice about

Travel sickness

What is it? An unpleasant combination of symptoms including dizziness, nausea and vomiting while travelling. Occurs when there is a conflict between what the eyes see and the inner ear senses.

Prevent and treat: OTC options include hyoscine tablets, which block some of the nerve signals sent from the brain, and antihistamines, which can control nausea and vomiting but may cause drowsiness. Also advise customers to focus on something stable (e.g. the horizon); stay hydrated; keep still; stay calm (e.g. listen to music as a distraction); and get a good supply of fresh air. Alternative therapies include ginger supplements or biscuits and acupressure bands.

Food and water

What's the problem? Traveller’s diarrhoea, hepatitis A, typhoid and cholera can all be contracted through contaminated food and water.

Prevent: only drink filtered, bottled, boiled or chemically treated water; avoid untreated tap water; avoid salads and raw fruit and vegetables unless washed in safe water or peeled by the traveller; avoid food left to stand at room temperature (e.g. buffets) or exposed to flies; avoid street food unless freshly prepared and served on clean crockery.

Insect bites

What are they? Painful but minor irritation caused by insect bites or stings. Occasionally triggers a serious allergic reaction.

Prevent: Apply insect repellent; keep skin covered while outdoors; don’t panic when encountering stinging insects. Travellers should be aware of the malaria status of their destination and prepare accordingly.

Treat: Wash the affected area with soap and water; apply a cold compress or take painkillers to reduce swelling. Antihistamine tablets can relieve itching while a low strength hydrocortisone or anti-itch cream can be applied the area.

Heat rash

What is it? Raised red spots that cause a prickling or stinging sensation on the skin following heat exposure.

Prevent: Avoid excessive time in the sun; stay hydrated; wear loose cotton clothing.

Treat: Cool the skin via a cool bath or shower, apply a cold compress or stay in an air-conditioned room; apply a low strength hydrocortisone cream; take antihistamine tablets to reduce itching.

 

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