60% of travelers return home with some changes or confusion. “In the vast majority of cases, these are minor problems, such as problems with the gastrointestinal tract or some skin diseases, but in the case of people who visit tropical regions, 10% of people need medical attention upon their return,” explains Rogelio López Vélez, head of the Department of Tropical Medicine at the Ramon y Cajal Medical Hospital.
To avoid the incidence of this type of disease, the specialist recalls that the traveler must request medical consultation before travel. “Ideally, there should be about six weeks and at least four weeks before departure, but it is always preferable to go for a consultation, even on the eve of the trip, than not to do so,” emphasizes José Ramón de Juanes, head of preventive medicine at Doce de Octubre Hospital in Madrid.
The General Council of Nursing recommends contacting International Traveler Assistance, as in many cases special vaccinations or updates already received are required. There, in addition, they will also receive advice adapted to the respective destination.
Thanks to these consultations, the traveler ensures the necessary vaccinations, treatment to prevent malariaif necessary, basic first aid kit And hygiene advice which you must follow while in risk areas.
De Juanes, who is also coordinator of the Vaccine Committee of the Spanish Society for Preventive Medicine, Public Health and Hygiene, has published a book Trips abroad. General recommendations and vaccinationsthe first guide to these characteristics in Spanish, which contains useful information for the traveler and the doctor.
pathologies that more often attack the traveler They can be grouped into four categories:
- Diarrhea: traveler’s diarrhea This is a banal gastrointestinal complication that disappears with proper nutrition and within a few days.
- febrile syndromes: they cover a very wide range of illnesses that can range from the common cold to dangerous malaria or malaria.
- Respiratory infections: conditions such as chronic cough, bronchitis or sinusitis.
- Dermatological: infections, allergyinsect bites.
Of all these pathologies, the most damaging to travel, although not serious, is the so-called traveler’s diarrhea. Basic precautions, such as drinking bottled water at all times, avoiding ice cubes in soft drinks, or not using running water to brush your teeth or hands, are especially important to prevent the disorder. “In any case, even staying in a five-star hotel hard to avoid. In fact, 7 percent of American tourists who come to Paris are known to get infected diarrhea and we are talking about a country with all guarantees of hygiene,” explains Rogelio López.
What really worries experts is the possibility of contracting diseases such as malaria, yellow fever or one hepatitis. And to avoid it, it is necessary to resort to vaccinations or, in the case of malaria, to prophylactic (prophylactic) treatments.
Last year, 187 cases of imported malaria reported in the Madrid region alone. “The problem is that a traveler goes to travel agencies and gets information about travel packages, prices, recreational opportunities, but does not advise you to see a doctor,” says Dr. De Juanes.
Be careful with the “last minute”
In this sense, experts warn against last-minute trips that can be found on the Internet and that can jeopardize tourism healthwhen you are taken without any medical advice.
“The destination that is becoming trendy in these travel offerings is Senegal. It is advertised as the African Caribbean, but in many cases it is clear that there is a risk of contracting malaria, which puts the life of the traveler at risk, ”explains Dr. Lopez.
Just to prevent infection Plasmodium falciparumin charge of malaria just broke in this week a new drug that combines two antimalarials. Dr. De Juanas explains that “this new treatment has the advantage that it causes fewer side effects than conventional treatments, it is more effective and it is enough to take it one or two days before the start of the trip and continue the treatment for a week after returning. It is important to emphasize that along with the doctor’s visit before you leave, you must return for a consultation on your return, which very few travelers do.
The experts also referred to a website created by Spanish Society of Tropical Medicine especially for inquiries from travelers to countries at risk.
Among the pre-travel tips, explains Guadalupe Fontan, coordinator of the Research Institute of the General Council of Nurses, there are, for example, tips specifically for chronic patients: “It is important that they travel with medicine in their hand luggage and take with them something in excess of what they need.. In addition, it is recommended to always keep it in its original packaging and have an appropriate medical certificate.
Beware of street food and buffets
The diarrhea prevention section warns of the risks of buying food at places where it is at room temperature, such as street stalls or buffets, that are not properly covered.
Except, emphasizes the importance of always drinking bottled water.
In many countries, it is not uncommon to find animals that are themselves a tourist attraction, but this does not mean that the activity does not involve risks. Such is the case with monkeys in Southeast Asia, where they often come to cause quarrels because of their aggressiveness.
“We must avoid approaching this type of animal to avoid possible bites and therefore disease transmission. The same goes for stray cats and dogs and, of course, those activities that include swimming with animals such as elephants, dolphins… such an experience, which, on the other hand, can mean cruelty to animals, also endangers our health,” emphasizes Fontan.
Upon returning, we tend to immediately forget about the trip and the possible risks that we may have taken by separating any episode related to our health from the vacation. However, as Guadalupe Fontan points out, “Whenever we have a health problem within 12 months of our return, we must notify our primary care physician.because even though we see it far away, there might be some connection.”