Travel is exciting and brings many adventures that you will treasure for a lifetime. However, there is also the risk of developing certain health problems from travel.
Ergo, it is a very good idea to check for various health problems you might have picked up while you were traveling once you have returned home.
Health Problems From Travel: What You Should Look Out For
Lyme disease is spread by the bites of infected ticks. Ticks flourish in fields and wooded areas, which is why you are always advised to apply a tick repellent when you go camping.
The ticks are especially high during the hottest summer months, but you can encounter ticks in late spring to mid-autumn anywhere where ticks tend to live and breed.
If you travel to any area where ticks are likely to live, do a daily tick check. Then, after you’ve gotten back home, you can take an at-home Lyme disease test.
These at-home tests can be purchased from most pharmacies, are quick to perform, and you will get the results within a week or two.
The incubation period for malaria is as short as seven days and as long as thirty days. If you receive a vaccine against malaria before you leave, it may help, but not all people build up enough antibodies fast enough.
So, even if you got a vaccine ahead of time, you should still get tested for malaria when you return home. This is especially important if you have visited any countries (e.g., South America, Africa, etc.) where malaria is a common illness.
Trypanosomiasis, or African Sleeping Sickness
If you visit Africa when you travel, there is a good chance you might have an unpleasant encounter with a Tsetse fly.
If this obnoxious little fly bites you, it can transmit microscopic parasites that cause you to become lethargic, weak, and desperate to sleep excessively.
If you feel really weak for more than a day or two after returning from an African safari or tour, check with your doctor to see if sleeping sickness is the culprit.
This upper respiratory disease is widespread and very contagious. Close contact with carriers or sick individuals results in contracting the disease.
The incubation period is approximately 14 days and some people who are infected don’t have any symptoms at all. So, it is very possible that you can contract it and not realize that you have it.
However, COVID-19 can cause severe symptoms in others. There is currently no cure but there are medications that can help if the disease begins to overwhelm you.
Simple tests for the coronavirus can quickly and easily confirm whether you have the disease. It’s important to get tested when you return so that you can seek medical advice if needed and avoid spreading it to others by quarantining yourself.
This pandemic from 2009 produced a strain of flu to which most younger adults, children, and pregnant women were at risk.
Older adults actually were able to resist this disease, having some form of it earlier in their lives and creating antibodies to the new strain.
While it is less common now, you could still contract it if you visit certain Asian countries where the disease still crops up. So, if you have flu-like symptoms, you can ask your doctor about getting tested for H1N1.
While you might be particularly careful about personal encounters while you are traveling, there are other ways to contract HIV/AIDS. Getting stuck with an infected needle, even accidentally, is enough.
Blood transfusions in other countries are sketchy at best, so if you had an accident while traveling or needed a blood transfusion for any other reason, be sure to do an over-the-counter HIV test or have your doctor perform the test for you.
Various Internal Parasites
Parasites are par for the course if you visit developing countries. This is a particular concern if you drank any of the local water or drank out of a body of water near a village or city.
Everything from tapeworms in undercooked fish and meat to hookworms in the soil can invade your body without you knowing.
Stool and blood samples can be tested for parasites if you return from a developing (i.e., Third World) country and have concerns that you might be infected.
Rabies is not something you want to skip getting tested for. However, you may not know that you have it!
There are vampire bats that will bite sleeping victims that camp in the open and have not covered their sleeping areas with netting to prevent the bats’ feeding habits.
There are also various rodents that have no problem attempting to nibble a toe, a finger, an ear lobe, etc., to see if you are a meal worth pursuing.
If you wake up with a bleeding wound or unexplained injury, be sure to get tested for rabies as soon as possible.
As fun as travel is, remember the most important part is to come back healthy and whole. Be sure you are educated on the health risks of your destination.
Nothing will taint a perfect trip like being incapacitated for several weeks after. A little education and prevention, as well as checking for health problems from travel when you return home, will help you plan a trip of a lifetime.