Information about travel health

Travel Health For most people, travelling abroad is an exciting and enjoyable experience. However, some people will experience illness or have an accident possibly requiring medical treatment while abroad.
Most things are avoidable through good preparation and simple precautions.

The information below should help you to make informed choices about steps to take for an enjoyable trip and a timely return to university which will contribute to wellbeing and achieving your full potential.
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General guidelines for getting ready (including vaccines)

  • Visit your travel clinic, doctor or practice nurse at least 6-10 weeks before you leave to check on vaccine and other health requirements.  Nurses at the Freemen’s Common Health Centre have expertise in travel health.
  • Discuss Malaria requirements and sort out with your travel clinic, GP, practice nurse or pharmacist your required medication.
  • Read the latest health advice for the country you're travelling to on the Fit for Travel website, and check the travel safety updates with the Foreign & Commonwealth Office.
  • Check that your passport is valid and does not expire before you return.
  • Check on visa requirements for your chosen destination.
  • Check you have adequate holiday insurance

 

Sexual health

When on holiday it is more common for single holiday makers to have more sex with more people than when at home and often let their guard down without the use of condoms.

Infections such as HIV and syphilis can be much more common abroad than in the UK. Most cases of HIV in heterosexuals diagnosed in the UK were acquired overseas.

Sex isn't compulsory when you're on holiday but it's good to be prepared, so buy a pack of condoms before you go. Remember; always use condoms with the CE mark on the packet. This means they have been tested to the high safety standards that are required in Europe. Condoms that don't have the CE mark won't meet these standards so don't use them. More information can be found at http://www.nhs.uk/livewell/sexualhealth/pages/sexonholiday.aspx

 

Sun protection

Skin cancer is one of the most common cancers in the UK, and it’s a growing problem. Each year, around 2,600 people die from skin cancer.  Skin cancers are caused by damage from the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays. Protecting the skin from the sun can help prevent these cancers. Whether you're on holiday or at home, you can protect yourself by following Cancer Research UK's Sun Smart messages at http://www.sunsmart.org.uk/skin-cancer-facts/howdoweknow/sunprotection/

 

Food and water

Contaminated food and drinking water are the most common source of illness abroad. Information about how to reduce the risk of food or water borne diseases can be found at

http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/travelhealth/Pages/Food-and-water-abroad.aspx

 

Bites

There are only a few insect-borne diseases that are preventable with medication or immunisation.  This means the only real protection against the vast majority of diseases is bite prevention. Stay safe by knowing the precautions you should take and what to do in an emergency.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/health/treatments/travel/illnessinjury_bites.shtml

 

Accidents

It is advisable to have adequate health insurance which covers accidents as well as other illness and check that repatriation in an emergency is also covered.
Be aware of the possible risks and avoiding predictable injury should always be the first priority.

  • Avoid alcohol and eating before swimming
  • Never dive into water when you are uncertain of the depth
  • Swim safely; assess currents, risk of sharks and jellyfish etc.
  • Never drink and drive
  • If hiring a vehicle, avoid motorcycles or mopeds
  • Only use reliable taxi firms and identify the location of emergency facilities

More information can be found at http://www.fitfortravel.nhs.uk/advice/advice-for-travellers/accident-prevention.aspx

 

Insurance

By taking out adequate travel insurance you can avoid huge medical bills if you have an emergency during your trip, for more information visit http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/travel-and-living-abroad/staying-safe/travel-insurance/

  • If you are travelling to a European Economic Area (EEA) you should carry a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)
  • If travelling to an EEA it is still advisable to have appropriate insurance to ensure you are fully covered for all eventualities and repatriation.

 

Pre existing medical conditions

If you have a pre-existing medical condition

  • tell your travel insurer about your condition
  • ask your doctor how the trip might affect you
  • check local conditions such as climate and pollution levels and consider how you might be affected
  • carry a doctor’s letter and a copy of any prescriptions
  • ensure your medication is legal in the country you are visiting – the British Embassy can advise you
  • Carry all medication in your hand luggage
  • learn key words and phrases in the local language for your condition, medication and emergency help
  • take the same precautions you normally would in the UK if you weren’t going to be at home for a while
  • if you suffer from a mental illness you should be aware that facilities and local attitudes to mental health problems may differ from those in the UK. Do some research before you go.

 

Consult your doctor before long-distance travel if you:

  • are pregnant or have given birth in the last 6 months
  • have a history of blood disorders, deep vein thrombosis or pulmonary embolism
  • are taking hormonal medication (including the contraceptive pill)
  • have cancer, heart problems or have recently had surgery.

 

Back packing

All of the above travel health information applies to backpackers; in addition consider getting yourself an e-mail box that can be picked up from a remote server such as hotmail account. Make use of the account to store essential health information, and keep in touch with those at home. Always let others know of your itinerary and plan ahead. If you change course, write or e-mail home, so others are aware of your schedule.

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