Stings, otitis and poisoning: health problems on vacations

Summer vacations are always good news, especially for families. This period of the year is usually important for parents who, in addition to being able to relax and take a break from work, can share quality time with their children. However, it is important to prevent and take care of health, as unfortunate events are more common than we think. Gastrointestinal and respiratory infections, injuries from cuts, dehydration, burns from sun exposure, intoxication from substances or exacerbation of cardiac, pulmonary or metabolic diseases are the greatest risks and reasons for medical consultation during summer vacations.

Pre-travel recommendations

First of all, a medical check-up prior to the trip is recommended. When thinking about vacations, “whether there are chronic diseases or not, it is essential to visit the doctor you trust to consider different scenarios that could occur, such as medication adjustments or the application of preventive vaccines when traveling to risk areas”, say specialists Jorge Huerta and Jesús Morales, from the Meditelier Medical Center, part of the Mi Tres Torres Clinic. In addition, it is important to have medical assistance, which is why another piece of advice given by the professionals is “to take out travel insurance to avoid unforeseen expenses, and also to have a budget for emergencies”. On the other hand, Dr. Xavier Xercavins, specialist in Internal Medicine, warns that infections due to cuts or small wounds are very common, so “it is mandatory to get a tetanus vaccine”.

Is it advisable to travel with children?

One of the frequent questions that often arise when thinking about vacations is how safe and beneficial it can be to plan a trip with small children. In this regard, the doctors of the Meditelier Clinic assure that it is important to “adapt vacations to the conditions of each family. That is to say, young children should be taken care of because they are more susceptible to some diseases, such as dehydration, acute diarrhea or exposure to high temperatures”. In this sense, Dr. Xercavins points out that “family vacations should be prepared and thought for all family members. If there are children, it is important to think about safe games and entertainment. If there are young people, plan some cultural activity and, if there are grandparents or older adults, take into account their care and peace of mind”. The expert in Internal Medicine assures that, when there are children, the ideal is “that there are physical games, jumps, trampolines or swimming pools to favor their development in completely safe places”.

The sun, friend or foe?

All experts agree that one of the main dangers when thinking about summer vacations is exposure to the sun, especially in the case of children.

Dr. Xercavins warns that “although the sun can be a good friend when thinking about summer vacations, you should be careful because it can be your worst enemy. You need to protect yourself with creams, hats and clothing. The trick is never to redden the skin, much less in children, since the negative effect of the sun will be permanent”. Specialists Huerta and Morales also warn about the risks of sun exposure and climate change: “it is recommended to avoid exposure to the sun and activities at times with high temperatures. In addition, it is important to use sunscreen and cover-up clothing to avoid ultraviolet (UV) radiation, which can have repercussions on the skin, such as burns and lesions. Finally, take into account the use of approved sunglasses to avoid eye injuries”.

How to avoid dehydration?

In relation to the previous point, in addition to avoiding high temperatures, “don’t forget to drink plenty of water,” reminds Xercavins. “Ice cream is not enough, it is necessary to drink water and, if the temperature is high, we should not be overconfident and we should stay out of the sun or not do sports at hours of high temperatures”. Meditelier’s doctors also point out the importance of “keeping constantly hydrated, and having an emergency kit, thermometer and contact numbers”.

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Gastrointestinal infections, the main problem during the vacations

The main reasons for medical attention during the holiday period are gastrointestinal and respiratory infections, according to specialists at Meditelier Medical Center. For his part, Dr. Xercavins also believes that intestinal infections are the most common cause of consultation during the summer. The expert in Internal Medicine recommends “to be vigilant depending on the country you are in and to have at hand some preparation previously prescribed by your doctor. Something natural and very effective is grapefruit seed extract, which is sold without prescription and can also be taken preventively”.

Otitis: increase of cases in summer

According to Dr. Claramunt Vives, specialist in Otorhinolaryngology, other pathologies that increase their incidence in summer are infections of the external auditory canal, known as otitis. These are generated by the humidity accumulated in the ears, either due to bathing or sweating caused by the heat.

In this article, Dr. Claramunt gives some tips to avoid otitis in summer:

  • Do not stay too long under water
  • Use earplugs or waterproof hats if there is a tendency to develop ear infections.
  • Do not bathe in contaminated water
  • Use saturated boric alcohol drops to evaporate residual water.
  • Clean before summer vacations, as earwax can facilitate water retention.

Insects, another threat

Another aspect that we must take care of when traveling or spending a few days away from home are the bites, so the basic recommendation is to always carry insect repellent.

“In summer, mosquitoes are common. These and other insects can transmit diseases, as they are vectors. For this reason, depending on the areas visited, they can transmit potentially serious or chronic infectious pathologies,” say Doctors Huerta and Morales. In this sense, they assure that a specialist should be consulted when a persistent fever develops. Dr. Xavier Xercavins also warns about stings from other insects, or even jellyfish: “in these cases it is always advisable to have a cortisone ointment”. In addition, he warns, “a bite that can be serious is that of the tick, which can trigger Lyme disease, so you should be vigilant in wooded or scrubland areas. If you see a tick attached to the skin, it is important to carefully remove it whole and carefully”.

Tips for traveling abroad

Dr. Menéndez, a specialist in Internal Medicine, assures that there are some aspects that we should take into account when traveling abroad and take care of our health. In addition to the rest of the recommendations, which also apply if we want to travel to other countries, there are some issues that we should take special care of and that the specialist points out in this article:

  • Be informed of the risks: be aware of the sanitary conditions of the destination country and the requirements to be able to travel and return healthy.
  • Vaccinations: it is advisable to administer them, even in cases where they are not mandatory. The most important is usually yellow fever, but hepatitis A and B, thyroid fever and tetanus are also recommended.
  • Always carry the appropriate medications in case of chronic diseases, since it is possible that in other countries we may not find the same drugs or require a prescription.
  • Drinking potable water: in many countries, especially in tropical countries, the water may not comply with the necessary sanitary guarantees for human consumption. The most typical consequence of this type of intoxication is diarrhea. The advice is to drink bottled water.
  • Do not eat raw food: meat, fish and seafood and street foods should ideally be avoided.