No one wants to think about getting sick or injured while on vacation. But the truth is that accidents and illnesses can happen anywhere, anytime. That’s why it’s important to be prepared for anything—including medical emergencies. Here are five common vacation-related medical emergencies and what you can do to avoid them (as much as possible).
Dehydration is one of the most common medical emergencies people face while on vacation. When you’re out in the sun all day and not drinking enough water, it’s easy to become dehydrated. The symptoms of dehydration include thirst, fatigue, headache, and lightheadedness. At first, you may think you are tired, but if the symptoms persist, they could signify dehydration.
How to Avoid: To avoid dehydration, drink plenty of water throughout the day—especially if you’re in the sun. If you know, you’ll be spending a lot of time outdoors, bring a water bottle with you and take regular sips. Fruits are also a great way to hydrate, as they contain lots of water. You don’t have any excuse not to stay hydrated!
Heat Exhaustion/Heat Stroke
Heat exhaustion and heat stroke are serious problems that can occur when you’re overexposed to heat. Symptoms of heat exhaustion include nausea, vomiting, headaches, and muscle cramps. If you don’t treat heat exhaustion, it can lead to heat stroke—a potentially life-threatening condition characterized by a high body temperature, confusion, and seizures. While on vacation, this could be especially dangerous if you’re not used to the new climate and are alone.
How to Avoid: To avoid heat exhaustion and heat stroke, stay out of direct sunlight for long periods and wear light, breathable clothing like cotton. If you’re going to be in the sun for an extended period, take regular breaks and drink plenty of water. It helps to bring a hat or cover to shield you from the sun. If you start feeling any symptoms of heat exhaustion, move to a shaded area and drink some water. If you think you are in danger of heat stroke, seek medical attention immediately.
Another common vacation-related medical emergency is food poisoning. You may be overly excited to try the local cuisine, but it is important to be aware of the risks. Unwashed fruits and vegetables, undercooked meats, and unfiltered water—are all potential sources of food poisoning. Symptoms can include nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and diarrhea.
How to Avoid: To avoid food poisoning while on vacation, it will help to eat with locals and make it a habit to ask customers about the quality of the food. Be mindful when ordering raw foods, and always wash your hands thoroughly before eating. Also, avoid drinking water from places you’re unsure of—even if it looks clean. It’s better to buy bottled water or drinks sealed in a can or bottle.
Injuries from Falls
Falls are one of the most common ways people get injured on vacation. Whether you’re taking a tumble down some steps or slipping on a wet floor in your hotel room, a fall can result in serious injuries. Since you are not familiar with the place, it is easy to misstep and take a tumble.
How to Avoid: To avoid falls on vacation, ensure you’re wearing the proper footwear for the occasion—for example, wear sneakers for hiking and sandals for beach days. If you’re in an unfamiliar place, it may help to take extra precautions, like holding onto the railing on staircases or avoiding wet surfaces. It’s also important to stay alert when enjoying alcohol and other substances, as these can impair your judgment and balance. If you get a chipped tooth from your fall, visit the dentist’s clinic as soon as possible for treatment. Left untreated, this may lead to more serious issues like tooth decay and infections.
Insect bites and stings are other hazards of vacations—especially if you’re traveling to warm climates where mosquitoes and other insects thrive. Most insect bites are harmless and will only cause redness, swelling, and itchiness at the site of the bite/sting. However, some insect bites can transmit diseases like Lyme disease or West Nile virus. And for people allergic to bee stings, a bee sting can be life-threatening. Stings may cause anaphylaxis, a severe allergic reaction that includes difficulty breathing, hives, and flushed or pale skin.
How to Avoid: To avoid insect bites/stings while on vacation, wear light-colored clothing with long sleeves and pants to cover exposed skin. It’s also important to use an insect repellant to keep. If you’re worried about insect bites/stings while on vacation, wear long sleeves/pants and insect repellent containing DEET. Lastly, check your body for ticks after spending time in grassy or wooded areas.
No one wants to think about getting sick or injured while on vacation—but unfortunately, accidents always happen. Awareness of common medical emergencies can help ensure your next vacation is healthy and fun!