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Traveling and Health





Before you go, find out about the places you plan to visit. Is the water safe to drink? Do mosquitoes or other bugs carry disease? Is there air pollution? Will you be at a high altitude that could make you sick? Is it safe to swim in pools, lakes, or the ocean? Could you get heat exhaustion, sun stroke, or a sunburn?

Basic safety can prevent some illnesses :

Many developing countries do not have safe tap water. When visiting these places, drink only beverages made with boiled water, such as tea and coffee. Canned or bottled carbonated drinks, such as soda, beer, wine, or carbonated water are usually a safe choice. Do not use ice if you don't know what kind of water was used to make it. And do not use tap water to brush your teeth.

Do not eat raw vegetables, raw fruits (unless you wash them with safeŚnot tapŚwater and peel them yourself), or raw or undercooked meat and seafood. Avoid food or drink from street vendors.

In malaria-infected areas, use DEET insect repellent on exposed skin, and use flying insect spray in the room where you sleep. Wear long pants and long-sleeved shirts, especially from dusk to dawn. Mosquito netting works well to protect yourself from bites while you sleep. Protect against ticks when you visit places where Lyme disease or Rocky Mountain spotted fever is present.

When the weather is very hot, stay indoors during the hottest time of the day. And use sunscreen when you go outside to prevent sunburn and dangerous heatstroke.

Air pollution in some large cities can pose a serious threat to those with asthma or other respiratory conditions. Avoid those cities when air quality is poor, or stay indoors as much as possible.

Practice safe sex. One of the most common ways that travelers get infections is by having sex with an infected person. Using condoms can prevent sexually transmitted infections and diseases.

Getting a disease on your trip is probably what you think about when you hear about travel health. But it is important to know about other ways you can be hurt. Many travelers are hurt in car accidents. If you must drive, learn about local driving customs, such as driving on the left side of the road. Travel during daylight when you can. Always use seat belts. If you use hired drivers (such as in a taxi), don't be afraid to ask your driver to slow down or to drive more carefully.


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