|In the past, I’ve discussed travel health risks or how to stay healthy while traveling. This month, I decided to review a book on the matter.“Travel Health,” published in the Rough Guide series, was written and researched by Dr. Nick Jones, a general practitioner in Bath, U.K. Jones has done extensive traveling — and his advice is right on.
The book is designed to aid in pre-trip planning, with information on travel insurance, immunizations, medical kits and tips for traveling with specific needs. It also includes safety tips, an A-Z list of potential health problems with their treatments, as well as health risks in certain countries and how to avoid them.
I’ll admit that at first the book seemed overwhelming, offering too much information. Yet as I began to take a closer look, I was quite impressed by the book’s thorough nature. Information is practical and presented in easy-to-understand laymen’s terms.
The author begins by discussing traveler’s insurance. Do you need insurance? And if so, what kind of insurance is right for you? You’ll find some helpful insights on this subject. Dr. Jones states for instance that many of the big credit card companies have allied travel insurance policies. So, if you paid for your trip with plastic, you may already have some travel insurance benefits — though likely very limited.
Vaccines — certain ones are required for entry into specific countries— are discussed in a different chapter. You’ll learn what they are for, as well as the risks or side effects involved. The Hepatitis A immunization, for example, is recommended for all travelers to developing countries. This viral infection of the liver is the most common travel-related infection. You can get it from contaminated water or ice, including shellfish harvested from sewage-contaminated water, from foods contaminated by infected food handlers or by direct contact with any other infected persons. An intramuscular injection of the vaccine should be given at least four weeks prior to departure. To provide long-term immunity of at least 10 years, a booster dose should be given six to 12 months later.
You will also find helpful information on homeopathic remedies (or alternative medicine), as well as many common conventional Western medicines that might possibly be needed for ailments acquired in other countries. One example is traveler’s diarrhea. Dr. Jones lists conventional medicines such as Loperamide and Pepto-Bismol and their proper doses for treatment, as well as natural remedies like Arsenicum Album.
This homeopathic medicine, which is derived by extracting Arsenic oxide from the mineral ore Arsenopyrite, can help with gastrointestinal problems brought on by eating too much fresh fruit and vegetables. It may also be used to treat food poisoning. The book even gives a homemade recipe of salt, sugar and boiled or sterilized water to aid in re-hydration. Also listed are many common antibiotics, antihistamines, laxatives, and their recommended dosages.
For travelers with certain ailments such as asthma, epilepsy, diabetes, immunodeficiency, medical associations and information sites in several countries are listed. Unfortunately, they only include the UK, the USA, Australia and New Zealand.
The book contains a list of diseases that could be contracted abroad. The nature of the illness is discussed, the usual symptoms, diagnosis and treatment. Loiasis, for example, which occurs in forested areas of central and West Africa, is caused by a worm that is transmitted to humans by the tabanid fly. The worm eggs, once inside the body, mature to adult worms and move freely under the skin. Diagnosis is made by a blood test and treatment is a substance called diethylcarbamazine given under close supervision. If the worm is localized, it can sometimes be removed.
This book is not intended to replace proper medical treatment, of course, but is helpful in making informed decisions about what precautions to take before you leave and while you are traveling.
Dr. Nick Jones
Rough Guide Ltd.
Publication date: August 2004
Rough Guides Publishing