Many of us will be looking forward to a holiday in the sun and it’s great to get away from the stresses of everyday life. Dr Jurgita gives some advice about dealing with holiday health issues which could save you money and needless panic while you’re away.
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Bear in mind that not all health care is free when travelling abroad. The EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) only covers some of your health care when travelling within Europe. The card is free but needs to be renewed every five years. To apply for or renew your card, ring 0845 606 2030 or visit www.nhs.uk.
It would also be a good idea to consider taking out travel insurance to cover medical emergencies not covered by the EHIC card. Check the policy details carefully to see what it covers before choosing a provider. If your holiday includes potentially hazardous sport activities, such as water sports or extreme sports, you may need to take out specialist health insurance.
What to pack
Put a first aid kit in your suitcase so you can deal with minor ailments when you’re away. Good things to include in a holiday first aid kit are:
- Antiseptic cream and plasters for cuts and scrapes
- Paracetamol for pain relief
- A bite and sting cream
- Diarrhea tablets to deal with stomach upsets
Pack anti-sickness medicines - those containing hyoscine are most effective. You can also get advice from your pharmacist about the most suitable ones for you and if they are safe to give to children. There are also a few simple tricks you can use to ease the effects of travel sickness:
- Staring at the horizon or at a fixed point can help to maintain a sense of stability, which combats the feeling of sickness
- Don’t eat big meals just before or during travelling
- Ginger is used by some people to ease motion sickness: try ginger biscuits, tea or tablets
Staying fit when flying
If your holiday involves flying, follow these simple tips to help you feel at your best when you reach your destination:
- On long-haul flights, stretch and move your legs as much as possible. If you get the chance, getting up and walking around will also help
- Wear loose fitting clothes
- Drink plenty of water on the flight and avoid drinking too much alcohol as that will leave you dehydrated
If you’re travelling further a-field, it’s possible that you might require vaccinations or malaria treatment. The website of the National Travel Health Network and Centre (www.nathnac.org) gives information on the necessary vaccinations and clinical updates for specific countries. Please be aware that there may be a small charge for some vaccinations. Whilst getting your vaccinations, you can also get advice about protecting yourself from Malaria.
It’s a good idea to plan ahead and get advice about travel jabs several weeks before you’re due to travel as some vaccinations need to be given well in advance so that they can work properly. If you’ve left it to the last minute, get advice from the centre, practice nurse or specialist travel clinic.
Certain vaccinations might not be available at the centre. For example, if you need a yellow fever vaccine, they are only available at yellow fever centres. A full list of these centres is available at www.nathnac.org. If we are unable to provide a certain jab, ask them to advise you of a local private travel vaccination clinic.
It’s also advisable to check your existing UK vaccinations are up-to-date and arrange booster jabs if they’re not. You can do this by contacting your local GP surgery and asking them to check your notes.
For more information on holiday health, visit the healthcare abroad section at www.nhs.uk.