Statistics from the travel insurance industry show that the biggest number of claims lodged by holiday-makers is for medical mishaps.
Unless you are a diehard worry wort, chances are you won’t factor getting sick into your itinerary. But the possibility is high that you will catch a bug or two as you travel around, especially if you visit locations crawling with tourists ready to share their germs with you.
That’s why it is a good idea to pack some over-the-counter (OTC) medicines before you head off.
Doing so will save you the aggravation of tracking down a pharmacy in an unfamiliar place to get relief for afflictions such as diarrhoea, headaches, colds and any number of other mild maladies.
Here are some medications you can discuss with your doctor or pharmacist before setting off on your travels. They may have better recommendations for your individual circumstances, especially if you are already on other drugs, so be sure to discuss these OTC products with them before purchasing:
This is easy enough to catch thanks to contaminated food and water, no matter how ‘clean’ the premises you visit appear to be. A product such as Imodium is handy to have nearby if you develop the runs while on the run.
The opposite problem, not being able to empty your bowels, can also result from eating foods you are not used to. While laxatives, such as Prunelax, Dulcolax and Coloxyl among others, can ease your discomfort, be aware that they may also interfere with the metabolism of your prescription medicines. Discuss with your doctor before selecting a product to relieve constipation.
It is not uncommon to suffer from indigestion if you eat strange dishes not on your menu at home. There are a wide variety of OTC antacids available, with popular brands including Gaviscon and Mylanta, to ease heartburn. As some of the ingredients in these preparations can prevent the absorption of other medications, check with your medical professionals to understand if they are suitable for you.
If you are predisposed to hayfever or likely to develop allergic reactions to pollution or insect stings, you will know the value of having an antihistamine, such as Claritin or Zyrtec, on hand. The last thing you want when trying to lap up new sights is to be constantly sneezing or have itchy, watery eyes.
If you become dizzy or nauseous when on a coach, boat or plane, you will know how awful travelling can be. Products such as Travacalm or even special wristbands can help relieve motion sickness symptoms.
Everyone hates that one person in a tourist group who cannot stop coughing. If you are unlucky enough to end up with a persistent, tickly throat, spare some thought for your fellow travellers and suck on a cough drop. You will be spoilt for choice and flavours when it comes to lozenges. Brands such as Benadryl, Butter-Menthol, Strepsils, Soothers and so on, are usually displayed near a chemist’s checkout counter.
Okay. As hard as you tried to stay healthy, you’ve managed to get a blocked nose, making it hard for you to breathe. Medicines such as Sinex or Sudafed can ease your congestion without making you drowsy, so you can breathe easy and continue to enjoy your vacation.
You will likely be trying new experiences and activities during your trip, opening you up to the risk of acquiring aches and pains. Even walking around or being on your feet for hours could lead to strains or muscle cramps. Too much excitement and stimulation from all the wonderful sensations you savour could see you end the day with a headache. Never leave the country without a box of your favourite painkiller. But be warned that if you have a prescribed codeine-based analgesic on you, in some countries you will be forced to hand it over before you enter.
Many of us can’t drift off to sleep if we are in an unfamiliar bed. Others find they can’t wind down after a day full of holiday activities. If you struggle to wake up refreshed after a bad night’s sleep, you could try a gentle, slumber-inducing remedy packed with natural herbs that help to ease tension. Speak to your pharmacist about products containing kava, valerian, passionflower and lavender.
When travelling to a foreign country, you will be asked to declare what medications you are carrying with you. Even some prescribed treatments are prohibited in certain jurisdictions, with or without the original script. Make sure you check with the embassies of the places you intend to visit for guidelines about what medicines it is wiser to leave at home. Here is a brief summary of the rules in popular destinations.
Do you have any other OTC medicines you take with you on holidays, just in case? Have you ever had to hand in your medicines at Customs before entering a foreign country?
Disclaimer: This article contains general information about health issues and is not advice. For health advice, consult your medical practitioner.
Join YOURLifeChoices, it’s free
- Receive our daily enewsletter
- Enter competitions
- Comment on articles