We’ve all been there. It’s a few weeks before your trip to Thailand and you have no idea what lurgies are about and what vaccines you need to get. Here’s a quick round-up of medical information and procedures you may want to consider before embarking on your travels.
Disclaimer: much to my mother’s disappointment, I am not a Doctor. The following is advice from a simple travel enthusiast and should be taken as such. Always contact your GP at least 2 months before travelling for the best advice.
With its tropical beaches and hot climate, Thailand seems exotic but lucky for us, it is surprisingly disease free – as long as you stick to developed resorts. When I was out there, the biggest medical battle I was faced with, was that of mosquitoes and a sore throat brought on by jet lag.
My key advice is to invest in a mosquito repellent that works. I strongly recommend RID, a tropical strength insect repellent made in Australia available in spray and roll-on available from The Safari Store London. Jungle Formula is also recommended, you can buy this at your local Boots. This repellent turned out to be the most popular formula on my group trip; whenever the owner got their can out before dinner, a small crowd would gather with anticipation and excitement to borrow.
For those with sweet blood, do go prepared with bite relief. Afterbite is a good anti-inflammatory and anti-itch formula that can be purchased in the UK. Please note this relief can be a bit stingy – but stingy can be good in some situations. In Thailand you can purchase Tiger Balm which is a good natural bite relief balm and favourable to those who want to be careful what they put on their bodies. Finally, a good chunk of ice in a towel is an ingenious way to numb big itches and lets a sufferer get a good night’s sleep.
With the change in time, climate and transition from air-conditioned rooms to the humid warmth outside, your immune system might take a small hit. A couple of late nights left myself with a slight sore throat but luckily I had packed away some Strepsils and Ibuprofen which let me recover in just a day. The moral of this story is that flu-like symptoms can happen anywhere in the world – not just in cold miserable England, so be prepared.
Thailand is hot. It’s sometimes difficult to envision how hot it will be just from the photos, but you will feel it when you’re out there. Drink lots of water and take rehydration pills with you just in case. Also, take a strong factor sun cream, whilst you dream of getting home with that gorgeous brown biscuit glow – the reality is that the first burn could leave you nursing your skin for days. It’s not worth it. I would recommend taking factor 30 sun cream at least and factor 50 for your beak and back of your knees.
Explore your vaccination options with your GP. Who knows? You may be due a top-up on vaccines recommended for life in Britain. It’s always nice to know you’re body has all the antibodies needed to fight those invisible battles we never consciously know are happening. As a general rule, Tetanus, Hepatitis A and typhoid are three key diseases you will want to know you’re protected against – so do bring this up with your Doctor. It is also advisable to consider preventative action against Cholera, Diptheria, Hepatitis B, Japanese Encephalitis, Rabies and Typhoid also. This depends on how far off the beaten track you’ll be going and your previous travel history. Fit for Travel is a good online resource for further vaccine research.
In summary, a trip to Thailand is not the medical nightmare you may have been considering. Invest in a good insect repellent, take bite cream, and take basic medical supplies like Strepsils, Anadin and Ibuprofen. Rehydration pills are a good idea, as is high factor sun cream. Finally, talk to your GP about vaccination options. Make sure you are topped up with all the routine jabs needed for life in Britain and consider your need for country-specific diseases – are you going off the beaten track for an adventure or are you relaxing at a resort? Different paths require different protection. Common sense and a chat with your Doctor should prevail!
Thailand travellers, please do share your own medical advice and personal experiences in the comments section. The more information we can contribute to other Thailand enthusiasts, the more we can promote this fascinating and beautiful country.
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Final Disclaimer: the above is simply advice from a travel enthusiast. Always consult your Doctor 2 months before travel to discuss medical needs.