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Basic First Aid On The Road

Joanna Hall

If you travel often enough you are bound to get the odd cut or scrape, or experience an upset stomach from eating food or drinking water you’re not used to. But there are plenty of things you can do to take action to regain your health on the road, as well as avoid seeking out help from a doctor. Our top tip is packing a good first aid kit covering all the basics, especially if you are travelling to a destination where medical supplies might be sparse, unsafe or incredibly expensive. If you are prone to headaches, aches and pains, include a general purpose, over-the-counter pain reliever such as paracetamol; choose the right product, and it will also help ease sprains, bruises, hangovers, and other minor problems. If you develop a mild fever, which means just above 38C, also include some Nurofen as it can help to bring it down; if your fever gets too high or it remains high for too long, see a doctor as soon as possible. If you catch a cold, do as you would at home; get plenty of sleep, drink plenty of clean water, and use symptom relief medications to unblock a stuffy nose, and ease a cough or sore throat. Also practice good hygiene, especially away from home, by washing your hands after you blow your nose, and discarding used tissues immediately. Motion sickness can be a problem some of the time if not all of the time for some travellers. The key is to plan ahead. If you’re scheduled to taking a ferry ride with rough waters predicted, taking a medication for motion sickness around one hour before you set off will help. Some medications can also serve as a mild sleep aid if you’re travelling at night.

If you injure yourself and get a swelling, such as a sprained ankle, use plenty of ice wrapped in a towel, elevate your foot frequently for 48 hours, and take anti-inflammatory medication. Also reduce any planned activities that could aggravate the injury, including any sightseeing on foot. When it comes to cuts, always clean thoroughly with soap to avoid infection, dry off and cover immediately with a band aid. Blisters are best prevented where possible, rather than after they have formed, so try wearing double socks, blister patches or band aids on any prone areas before you head off for a lot of walking or activities on foot. And always break in new shoes before you travel, not while you’re on holiday. If you get diarrhea, which can be inevitable while travelling in some countries especially, be prepared to ride it out as in most cases it will run its course within a day or so. Simply take it easy for 24 hours, make your diet as bland as possible for a couple of days, and drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration. If the condition persists for more than a few days and you also have a fever, however, make sure you see a doctor. And finally, at the opposite end of the scale, if you become constipated get plenty of exercise, drink lots of clean water, eat as many fruits and leafy vegetables as you can handle, and consider using a laxative after a few days for relief to prevent developing hemorrhoids.


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