Holidaying in a foreign land can be an exhilarating experience, but even the most carefully laid plans and itineraries can be smashed to bits by the occurrence of an unforeseen medical crisis. With the average number of trips taken by any single person increasing each year, it isn’t unusual that the incidence of medical emergencies that occur while abroad have also been on the rise. Although the statistics say that only on approximately one trip in 1000 will a traveller need emergency medical care when abroad, with the way, statistics work, for all we know, that trip could be your next one.
Medical emergencies like suddenly falling extremely ill, a severe case of food poisoning, a twisted ankle or a fall resulting in a fracture are all stressful events in and of themselves. This stress is only exacerbated by being in unfamiliar territory, with strange rules and possibly a language barrier that can only be crossed with wild hand gesturing and signals. To make sure you are never caught off guard in case you need urgent medical help, here is some expert advice on how to be prepared for any such incident on your next trip abroad.
Research the place you are visiting.
Studying up on your intended destination in advance will help avoid a potential health issue. Locate and map out health centres in the vicinity of where you will be staying during your trip. Check to see if there are any seasonal illnesses or outbreaks in the region to be prepared and get a handle on what measures to take before leaving.
Consulting with your local health authority regarding any vaccinations you might need to receive, considering the destination you have in mind, is one of the pre-requisite measures you need to take to prevent any unexpected illnesses. Flu vaccines are recommended quite often, especially when travelling to crowded areas in other continents where you will come in contact with several people carrying various germs that you might not be immune to. If your journey targets tropical regions, be sure to get anti-malarial vaccines for malaria prevention.
Be familiar with the language
Having a medical emergency when abroad is a high enough ordeal without the additional difficulty of being unable to seek any assistance. A translation dictionary is a smart investment to make when travelling to countries where you don’t speak the local language. Better yet, have a translator app downloaded to your phone for easy access and efficient translation.
It is also a good idea to learn some basic phrases that allow you to introduce yourself, to ask for directions to the hospital or pharmacy, and to request for help. These emergency phrases can be a lifesaver in times of need when you are unable to find someone who speaks your own language. If you are among those who don’t have a knack for languages, the least you will have to do is indicate the word you are trying to convey. Having a local number with an active mobile data package can also be a tremendous asset as it provides access to online translators and maps that you can refer to on the go.
Keep your personal information close at hand
It is highly advisable to have a written list of your information in your own language, and if possible a translated version in the language of your destination, on your person at all times from the moment you embark on your journey. It should contain information such as your name, the phone number of an emergency contact person (a close relative or friend), your physician’s name and contact details, a list of allergies, previous medical history, present medical conditions, prescriptions for your medications and the name of the hospital or clinic near your travel destination that you had looked up previously.
Medications and first aid kit
Depending on how long you plan to be away from home, keep an ample supply of the necessary over the counter drugs and all prescription medicines to suffice you on your trip. Pack drugs for headaches, tummy upsets, allergies and flu. If you have a history of anaphylactic shock or severe allergic reactions, you can never too careful in a new environment that may contain multiple unknown allergens. This makes it crucial to never leave home without an epinephrine auto-injector for dealing with any sudden onset allergic episodes. You can find all the medicines you might require at Click Pharmacy, along with the advantage of being able to get advice from their in-house team of medical experts. Before setting off on your trip, make sure to check with the foreign embassy of your destination country if there are any restrictions concerning medications in that country.
Furthermore, stocking up on vitamins, supplements, bandages and ointments along with the note of your medical history (specifically mention life-threatening allergies or medical conditions) will make it easier for others to help you in case you lose consciousness or are unable to communicate verbally.
Travel health insurance
Wherever your destination and whatever your medical emergency, your ability to find and avail of quality medical treatment are largely dependent on one thing- whether you can financially cover the expenses or not. It is essential to find out what kind of coverage (if any) your insurance provides internationally. Ideally, if your insurance does not cover you abroad, then looking into travel medical plans should be one of the first things you do after you book your tickets. There are several different plans available at various medical insurance providers, so be sure to look into what each program does and does not cover and choose accordingly. The policy that you opt for should preferably cover expenses for medical checkups and emergencies, and give you an emergency medical hotline.
It is essential to distinguish between travel insurance, which covers the financial investment in the trip, and travel medical insurance, while covers the hospital or medical expenses due to an unexpected illness or injury when travelling abroad.
Encountering a health emergency when abroad is a distressing predicament to find oneself in, but by taking the necessary precautions, you will be well equipped to deal with any unexpected crises that may come your way on your travels.