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Why do I get sick when I go abroad?

Traveller's diarrhoea? Vomiting bug? Constipated? Come back with a cold? These are all common complaints heard in a pharmacy every day, and particularly at this time of year, during peak holiday season. Either people are visiting Ireland on holidays and fall ill, or are just back and find themselves not with a post-holiday glow, but with a post-holiday fever.


Blocked Nose?

Sharing a cabin with a lot of people - a confined space for a long period of time - is the perfect environment to catch a virus in. A lot of people suffer from congestion in the sinuses for a few hours after a flight but this should subside by itself, a decongestant will give symptomatic relief in the meantime but is not necessary unless you feel you need relief in that time. So before you go self diagnosing a virus, give yourself a few hours post-flight to adjust to the pressure difference, there may be no need to dose up on decongestants, plus decogestants such as pseudoephedrine (Sudafed) can have a stimulatory effect, and nobody wants that when they are trying to sort their jet lag out right?


No flu 4 u

An important way to prevent catching something more serious, such as the influenza virus is by getting the influenza vaccine (the best time to get it is around September, before the season starts).You should especially consider the flu vaccine if you are in a group at risk of developing complications from a bout of the flu, such as pregnant women, the elderly and those with a chronic disease. (BTW flu is not to be confused with the common cold. The ACTUAL flu would have you bedridden with aches and pains and general malaise, and feeling exhausted too. Therefore stuffy nose and a cough ≠ flu).


Fail to prepare...

As well as protecting against the flu, bring some common cold remedies just incase such as the Vicks Vaporub, Ilvico (suitable even for those on blood pressure medication)/ other decongestant that is suitable for you and suitable with any other regular medication you may take. Some paracetamol and ibuprofen are always handy to have too, as well as dioralyte/other rehydration salts incase of dehydration due to hot climate, vomiting, diarrhoea, exercise, hangover etc.

There are different brands of probiotics especially for supporting digestive health when travelling, and this may be a great health investment for you if you are someone who travels a lot, or who travels far afield. Taking probiotics preventatively can prevent upset to the natural balance of your digestive system, and help boost your immunity as you come across different microbiota (lil germs) in the foreign country. I would recommend you take them for a week before leaving, during the whole stay, and then for a week after your return.


What's bugging you?

(I'm so sorry about the pun. It just happened. I'm out of control. Moving on...)

...Another reason why you may fall ill on your travels is because foreign countries are host to foreign bugs that you are not immune to. Locals don’t get the vomiting/diarrhoea bug because they have made themselves immune to such viruses over the time they have lived there. Depending on how far afield you are travelling and on the viruses that are present there, you may need to get vaccinated before you leave, so plan ahead and research on to find out if where you’re headed will put you at risk of contracting some dangerous viruses. If so visit your GP or a travel clinic to get vaccinated. Minimise the risk!! Get some good insect repellent too.


Bottle it

Research before you go whether or not the tap water in the locality is safe to drink or not. If not, stick to bottled water. The best way to prevent an upset stomach abroad is by taking a course of probiotics before, during and after your travels.


So in summary, avoid those holiday blues by doing your research before you go and taking the necessary precautions before you leave, to get the most out of your much anticipated holiday. Take your probiotics, get vaccinated if necessary, bring hand sanitiser and only consume food/drink that is safe to eat/drink. Keep hydrated people and look after that body of yours. After all, it is the only place you have to live in.

Chat soon,

Lauren (ginger) x

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