Look after your health when at home or abroad

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Summer is the time when many of us will be looking forward to a holiday – a chance to relax and experience a change of scenery.

But there are some important things to consider to make sure that health issues don’t stop you having a good time, especially if you’re planning to travel abroad.

· Staying safe in the sun

Too much exposure to the sun is not good for your skin whether you’re at home or abroad.

It is important to apply sun cream before exposing skin to the sun. Don’t wait until you start to burn and begin to feel red and sore before thinking about applying cream or moving to a shadier spot, as the damage may already have been done.

Sunburn in children is also more damaging than it is for adults, so it is extremely important to make sure that children are protected when out in the sun. Use a high factor lotion and try to keep them covered up or in the shade.

Try to make sure you avoid the sun in the middle of the day when it is at its hottest, and drink plenty of water to avoid becoming dehydrated.

· Flying

If you are going abroad for your holidays and travelling by plane, there are a few things to remember to make your flight as enjoyable and safe as possible.

Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) is a clotting of the blood which usually occurs in the calf, and tends to be accompanied by intense pain in the affected area. It can develop during periods of low activity. This means that it is important to keep your legs moving when on a plane, by either getting up and walking along the aisles, or doing exercises while you are sat down.

In-flight compression stockings can also help, as they increase blood flow, but they should be properly fitted and not too tight.

If you are travelling across time zones, you may find that you suffer from jet lag (a disruption to sleep patterns) when you arrive. To try and overcome this, ensure you are well rested before you embark on your journey and try to nap during the flight. Also make sure you stay hydrated by drinking lots of fluid, but try to avoid alcohol.

When you arrive at your destination, try to eat and sleep at the correct time for your destination, not as you would if back at home. Spending time outside in the natural light will also help you adjust. If you take the oral contraceptive pill or any other medication at set times during the day, ask your GP for guidance on how this might be affected.

· Food and drink

Depending on where you are travelling to, you may be at risk of developing diarrhoea or other digestive problems. In developing countries, avoid drinking tap water – go for bottled water instead, and also use this to clean your teeth. Also avoid drinks with ice and salads.

If you get diarrhoea, drink plenty of clear, clean fluids. It might be helpful to take diarrhoea medication along with you as well. Avoid caffeine and alcohol as this will leave you dehydrated.

· Insect bites

Bites and stings from insects can be a problem both at home and abroad. In some tropical countries, insects such as mosquitos can carry diseases like malaria and Dengue Fever.  

Make sure you take a good insect repellent with you and apply it as per the instructions on the label. Wearing loose fitting clothes will help to stop a mosquito bite reaching your skin. Sleeping under a mosquito net will also help prevent bites at night – you may want to take a sewing kit with you to make sure you can repair it if needed.

If you’re visiting certain countries, you might also need to take anti-malaria tablets both while you’re away and before you travel. Speak to your GP or visit a travel vaccination clinic for advice.

They will also be able to tell you about any additional immunisations you need before you go.