Although most travelers end up with nothing more than a bout of Delhi belly and mild sunburn, a number of more serious travel maladies can rear their ugly heads and cause problems. Being prepared is the key to safe and hassle-free travel.
Although self-diagnosis and treatment can get you out of the water, seeking professional medical attention when ill is a must in the tropics. Having good travel insurance which will cover any adventure activities you plan on doing is also a must.
Diarrhea and dehydration: diarrhea commonly lasts just a few days and is generally caused by unfamiliar bacteria when visiting the tropics. Diarrhea will lead dehydration so it is important to drink lots of fluids and stay off the alcohol. If you are traveling and need to dry up then over-the-counter drug Imodium works well. Rehydration therapy will be necessary after severe diarrhea and vomiting and especially in children.
Altitude sickness: or acute mountain sickness (AMS) is caused when people ascend mountains too quickly, due to lower oxygen levels and lower air pressure. It typically occurs above 8,000 feet in about 25 percent of people and usually in the young.
Bed bugs: small, brown bugs that reside within mattresses and furniture and come out at night. They leave straight lines of red sores across the skin and although they are not life-threatening, it is a good idea to clean any bites with antiseptic. Tell-tale signs for backpackers are tiny red spots on sheets and blankets.
Jet lag: combined with dehydration from exceedingly dry airline cabins and diarrhea, jet lag can be murder for a few days. It generally happens when traveling a long way east and is best overcome by drinking lots of water on the plane, sleeping well, keeping out of the sun, staying off the booze.
Motion sickness: the state of being dizzy or feeling sick when traveling. You can get motion sickness even when flying and if susceptible. Dramamine pills work well.
Poisonous bites, infected cuts and scrapes: there are dozens of diseases in the tropics that come by way of biting insects and the best way to not catch anything is to of course not get bitten. Cuts and scrapes get infected fast in the tropics because of the huge number of microbial life forms; therefore, cleaning them with antiseptic and bandaging is vital.
Sunburn / sunstroke: the sun is especially intense in the tropics as well as at altitude anywhere in the world. Sunstroke occurs frequently among travelers to the tropics through heat exhaustion and lack of fluid uptake.
Deep vein thrombosis: DVT is a blood clot in a deep vein, usually of the lower leg (calf), and long haul flights are thought to be one of the main contributors. You should seek advice about travel if there is a history of DVT in your family, or you have recently had a hip or knee replacement, and you plan on flying for longer than three hours.
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