In the GP surgery blog 8 - Summer holidays

Thursday, June 8, 2017 - 12:45
Dr Paul Williams
Summer holidays…. We look forward to them all year so last thing we want is to be ill and spoil them. However, the things we do on holiday actually increase our risk of ill health or injury quite significantly. This month I thought I’d mention a few simple tips to try and keep you fit and healthy on holiday and when you get back.
 
Prepare a simple medical pack to take with you, finding a pharmacy on holiday can be a challenge. Have a few simple things for cuts and minor injury, dressings, cleaning antiseptics etc, you can often get a pre-packed kit at your pharmacy. Make sure you have a supply of simple pain killers (paracetamol or ibuprofen) and some anti-diarrhoeal drugs such as loperamide. If you’re travelling with young kids some salt/sugar solutions such as dioralyte might be useful. The one thing we all hope for on holiday is sun, so make sure you are prepared for it. Even in this country the summer sun is very strong and can burn us quite easily, children are particularly susceptible. Sun burn is painful and can ruin several days of the holiday; it also predisposes you to skin cancer in the future so it makes sense to protect yourself. Take plenty of high factor sun screen, at least factor 30 for adults and 50 for kids. Use it frequently, don’t assume one application at the start of the day is enough, re-apply frequently especially after swimming. Wear loose clothing and a hat to keep you cool and keep the sun off. Sunglasses are important as the UV light can damage your eyes; all sun glasses bought in the UK have good UV filters built in.
 
Being on holiday doesn’t endow you with new abilities or strength to do things you can’t physically do at home; be sensible and don’t take silly risks, injuries are very common on holiday. Drink sensibly, we often get quite dry in the heat, rehydrate with water, beer might be thirst quenching but it actually will make your dehydration worse. Always carry a supply of bottled water with you.
 
Many of us fly when we go away. There are another whole series of risks associated with that. Blood clots are very common after flying, especially after a long haul route. We can do some simple things to reduce the risks. Stay well hydrated on the plane, drink plenty of water, avoid alcohol, exercise your legs in the seat and stretch your legs walking in the aisle if you can. Wear flight socks which help prevent blood stagnating in the calves. If you can tolerate aspirin, taking an aspirin before travelling can help too.
 
If you are lucky enough to be going to an exotic destination consider what immunisations you may need, your GP or travel clinic can help here. You may need to take malaria prevention tablets, these are not available on the NHS but can be bought relatively cheaply, again your doctor or travel clinic can provide these for you. Make sure you take them for the specified time after you return, people often think when you get home you are fine and don’t need them anymore, this isn’t true as the malarial parasite often hides in the body and comes out again after we return home.