50% of people, who travel, suffer a travel – related illness. All travelers should be well prepared for travel and be prepared to protect themselves from travel related illness. In this issue various aspects of travel related illness have been discussed with related protective measures.
According to ayurveda traveling causes vitiation of vata dosha. Vata dosha regulates all the activities of body like digestion, respiration, excretion, transmission of nerve impulses ,reflexes, body movements etc. When vata gets vitiated due to traveling all these normal functions of body also get imbalanced .The imbalances in body functions project themselves as travel related illness.
Motion sickness: Almost every body are susceptible to motion sickness. Fatigue, giddiness, deprivation of sleep, nausea and vomiting are the main unwelcome symptoms of motion sickness. Avoid consuming alcohol, pain killers, spicy foods, fried foods and junk foods during traveling. Try to relax and chose a window seat. Do not read or talk. Or watch someone who is motion sick.
Diarrhea: Though travelers’ diarrhea is mild inconvenience to a traveler, it may at times be life threatening too. Upsets in digestive system frequently occur in travelers due to stress, time zone changes, irregular meal times and new foods. But serious diarrhea during traveling is caused by bacteria, viruses or parasitic infections. The best way out is to take ample precautionary measures.
Wash your hands frequently. Use sanitizing liquids, hand washes or gels which cleanse the hands without water. Always use disposable hygienically packed tissue papers than towels. Avoid street, roadside foods, buffet meals. Select food which is well cooked and served hot. Thick-skinned fruits which you can peel yourself are usually safe. Avoid raw or undercooked meat, fish, uncooked vegetables, salads. Be care full with unpasteurized milk and milk products. Always use sealed mineral water, canned juices and beverages. Never use ice cubes or unsealed bottled beverages. Bottled Beer, wine and hot coffee or tea are safe. Drink from original containers or clean glasses
If you get mild diarrhea eat light ,soft and semi solid foods like idli, soups etc which are easily digestible. Avoid heavy, spicy and non vegetarian foods. Drink plenty of fruit juices.(canned or hygienically packed.). Keep yourself well hydrated. Consult a doctor immediately if diarrhea leads to dehydration.
Constipation: people often become constipated when traveling because their normal diet and daily routines are disrupted. Drink plenty of water and consume food which are rich in fibers to avoid constipation.
Try to adhere to routine food timings .Drink a big glass of water every day morning. Avoid frequent consumption of tea or coffee. Taking two thriphala tablets with warm water before going to bed helps to normalize bowel movements. These tablets should be avoided during pregnancy.
Tired feet Even healthy people can get blood clots in their legs after long hours of traveling. Try to walk every now and then. Drink water, stretch your calf muscles while you’re sitting and wear support stockings.
Foot bath for tired feet: Massage your foot with little coconut oil and soak them in warm water . You can add few drops of lavender oil or peppermint oil or sandal wood oil to warm water. After a foot bath rub your foot. Relax after a foot bath.
Prevention of Malaria: To prevent mosquito bites and malaria wear mosquito repellent .Stay indoors between dusk and dawn. The malaria spreading mosquitoes generally feed at this time. Apply mosquito repellent, to your clothes and bedding. Wear socks, long pants, and long-sleeve shirts when outdoors. Use a mosquito net while sleeping. Stay in air-conditioned, screened accommodation.
Jet lag To avoid jet lag get plenty of sleep before you leave. Don’t drink a lot of alcohol while on flight. Eat well-balanced meals and avoid over eating. Exercise as much as you can on your trip. Get used to a new time zone by going along with the local meal and bedtime schedules.
Accidents: Do not drive in unfamiliar places where you know less about that regional language, road conditions, rules of the road, condition of the vehicles. etc. Choose your transportation carefully. Check the security, life saving facilities provided in the transport. Chose, the cab with seat belts, hotels with fire escape and ferries with life preservers. Never swim in unknown rivers or seas when you are not familiar with sea currents and waves.
Sex: Have a safe sex when you are with unfamiliar new partners. Alcohol, drugs and sex are dangerous combination
Immunization: Get immunized with vaccines before traveling. Avoid animal bites and saliva. If you are bitten by dog wash the wound immediately with soap and water.
Travel during pregnancy: If you chose to travel during pregnancy the second trimester (weeks 14 to 27) is the best time. Before traveling take the opinion of your consulting doctor and provide him the sufficient details about the places you are visiting, mode of transport etc.
Tips for older travelers See your doctor for a checkup and discuss your fitness .See your dentist and ophthalmologist. Keep a spare pair of glasses, any medications you need in a small medical kit. Organize travel health insurance with pre-existing illness cover if needed. Make sure it covers emergency evacuation. Make sure routine immunizations are done before traveling. Consider your back – use luggage with built in wheels. Take clothes and hats to suit the climate.
Other safety precautions: Check with the regional office or through internet the situation of places you are planning to visit. The destination places must be free from riots, terrorism, floods or other calamities.
Mental tensions: Preparations for traveling lead to worry and tensions. Here are few relaxing tips before and during traveling.
1. Close your eyes , take five deep breaths through your nose and pay attention only to your breathing while doing this.
2. Taking a hot shower relaxes your muscles, and the break from more stressful activities helps too.
3. Laugh. Laughing helps to relax. Find people who can make you laugh and make your moments lighter..
4. Listen to relaxing music.
5. Take a walk.
6. Get a hug.
A visit to your family physician and some thought and planning ahead make your trip more successful and memorable. We wish you a rewarding, memorable, safe and healthy trip.