Travel, especially in developing countries, comes with varying levels of exposure to potential health issues. The time-tested tips in this article can help you stay healthy on your next trip.
If your travel plans take you to Western Europe or other industrialized countries, health issues are usually less of a concern. But if you're traveling to a developing country, you should start planning several months in advance.
Health issues can vary by the destination, but traveler's diarrhea is probably the most common issue you may encounter. Other diseases also caused by ingesting contaminated food and water include cholera and dysentery. Take the following precautions to minimize your risk:
Common in Central and South America, Africa, Asia and the Middle East, malaria is transmitted by infected mosquitoes. Other diseases transmitted by mosquitoes and flies include yellow fever, sleeping sickness, leishmaniasis and Japanese encephalitis.
Parasites such as worms and flukes can be transmitted by ingesting contaminated food or water or via direct contact with skin.
Some of the health risks associated with wilderness travel anywhere in the world include sunburn, blisters, poison ivy, insects, ticks, snakebites, hantavirus and altitude sickness. For details, see the REI Expert Advice article, Health Concerns in the Outdoors.
There can also be additional health concerns related to temperature extremes—heat fatigue, heat exhaustion and heat stroke, as well as dehydration, hypothermia and frostbite.
Despite your best intentions, it's still possible you could get sick during your trip or after you return home.
By Steve Tischler
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Last updated: 02/18/2014
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