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Travel Health

Expert information, advice and treatments for staying healthy whilst abroad

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  • Begin your free consultation by answering a few questions about your condition.
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Every year around 1,500 Britons return to the UK with malaria. It is a disease caused by the plasmodium parasite. The parasite is carried by the female anopheles mosquito which may pass the parasite on to you when you are bitten. Once the parasite has been injected into your bloodstream, it starts move towards your liver, invading your red blood cells on its way. The parasite then causes them to burst and infect your system, causing a very high fever and in some cases death.

There are four different types of the malaria parasite that can affect humans, with the most common one, plasmodium falciparum, being the most dangerous. The other three, plasmodium ovale, plasmodium malariae and plasmodium vivax are much less severe, but can still cause a reasonable amount of discomfort.

Malaria symptoms in the beginning are very similar to that of flu, which means that many people sometimes aren't aware at first that they have it. Although there is a cure for malaria, preventing it can help prevent significant discomfort and in extreme cases death.

You can find out more about malaria and malaria tablets.

Travellers' Diarrhoea

Travellers' diarrhoea is very common, affecting roughly 20 to 30% of people travelling abroad, and tends to affect people mostly during the first two weeks of their stay in a new country. Its effects aren't long-term and most people recover without treatment after three to five days. However it can cause you to become dehydrated and lose valuable minerals and salts, also known as electrolytes.

Diarrhoea is a higher risk in some part of the world than others, and mostly depends on how high sanitary and other hygiene standards are. It may also just be a case that your system isn't used to the new bacteria in the environment, especially if you live in a colder country than the one you are visiting.

The most common cause of travellers' diarrhoea is largely as a result of bacteria, which is the easiest to treat, with significantly less cases resulting from viruses and parasites. There is no vaccine for this condition, but making sure you drink clean water and eat only foods that have been hygienically handled can significantly reduce your chances of getting diarrhoea.

You can find out more about travellers' diarrhoea and the treatments available.

Jet Lag

Jet lag is an extremely common consequence of travelling through time zones to reach a new location. It can affect anyone, even seasoned travellers, if they travel through two or more time zones. This condition is only temporary but it can be a particular inconvenience because it disrupts the beginning of a holiday. The most common and well-known symptom is finding it difficult to either fall asleep or stay awake, depending on the time of day in your destination.

It is possible to alleviate the symptoms of jet lag by taking a melatonin-based treatment. Melatonin is a natural hormone which helps to prepare your body for sleep. Taking such a treatment can help your body to adjust to the new time zone and the new sleeping patterns it requires.

You can find out more about jet lag and available treatments.

Travel Sickness

Travel sickness, otherwise known as motion sickness, is possibly the most common condition associated with travel, and it can affect people of all ages. It is most frequently caused by travel by car, plane, boat or train and occurs because your brain becomes confused by the conflicting messages coming from your eye and the inner ear. The messages conflict because one message tells the brain that you are stationary while the other tells it that you are in motion. The brain thinks that this is hallucinatory due to the ingestion of poison, so it triggers a response of nausea in an attempt to remove the imagined toxin.

There are a number of treatments available that can be taken to prevent the common symptoms of travel sickness - nausea, headaches and vomiting, for example - from occurring. These medications include Avomine, Kwells and Scopoderm patches. These medications are administered in different ways and can be taken in different durations to prevent travel sickness.

You can find out more about travel sickness and the treatments available to prevent it.

Altitude Sickness

Altitude sickness is a serious condition that can occur in people who have ascended to new altitudes without taking the time to acclimatise properly to the new altitude. It happens as a result of the "thinner air" that is found at higher altitudes. Common symptoms include shortness of breath, nausea and tiredness. It is an extremely serious condition and proper acclimatisation must be carried out by those ascending to new altitudes in order to prevent it. High altitude is usually determined to be any height from 1,500m above sea level.

It is important to note that there is no alternative to the appropriate acclimatisation methods that can be taken to prevent this condition. Anyone who is planning to undertake an activity that involves climbing to new altitudes must ensure they are fully aware of the risks and are prepared if altitude sickness does occur. Treatments like Diamox can be taken to help prevent altitude sickness alongside proper acclimatisation.

You can find out more about altitude sickness.

Can I buy treatments for these conditions online?

HealthExpress can help you find the right travel medication, depending on your destination and your current health. Our consultation service is completely free of charge, and after completion your information will only be viewed by one of our registered doctors. Once we ensure that you are safe to use our travel medicines, you will be able to place an order with us. Our doctor will issue you with a prescription, which will be filled by our registered pharmacy and will be dispatched, free of charge, for delivery the very next day.