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How do I know if food is safe while traveling abroad?
It’s very important to pay attention to food and water safety. The governing principle is cook it, oil it, peel it or forget it in terms of food. That means that if it’s not steaming hot, that it might not be safe. Many times in buffets overseas, which are quite luxurious and appetizing, if they have frequently been staying out for long periods of time and growing or providing a nice culture medium for some of the things that as Mark Twain said, “Like to fight it out inside your stomach.”
What about water?
All water should be treated — or most easy is to buy bottled water.
Should I buy medications while abroad?
While traveling overseas in the developing world (not necessarily in Europe, Great Britain, New Zealand or Australia) you can go in a pharmacy and buy almost anything off the shelf that you want — but that is not necessarily the best medical way to go about an illness. And you can’t be guaranteed of the contents or the strength of some overseas-produced medications.
What do I do if I get sick while traveling abroad?
The first thing you would think about doing is to call your own primary care provider or if you have a specialist involved in your care to call them and ask them what you might do or what might be needed. As far as obtaining a reliable physician overseas or hospital, one of the good ways to do this is to call the American embassy or consulate and ask them for a list of names, providers that are used to dealing with American tourists.
What if I need to be treated overseas?
Most physicians in developing areas would be aggressive in treating an illness in a tourist to make sure that they get better. I advise tourists that get ill overseas, in general, do not accept any injectable medication. If for some reason that they feel they must or should accept an injectable medication, then advise them to watch the vial be uncapped, watch the syringe be taken out of a sterile package and watch the needle be uncapped.
What's the most common illness acquired abroad?
The most common illness acquired abroad that is always a good idea to be prepared for would be traveler’s diarrhea. To prepare for this, the first medication would be to carry Loperamide, the common name of that is immodium. But it is always a good idea to carry an antibiotic which you would need to get from your primary care provider.
For More Information
To learn more or to find a Sharp-affiliated physician, search for San Diego doctors or call 1-800-82-SHARP (1-800-827-4277), Monday through Friday, 8 am to 6 pm. To find general information about travel medicine, visit Travel Medicine in Adult Health or read the Travel Health News archive.