Before travelling overseas, it is important to be aware of the possible health risks and how to prevent problems or minimise the chances of them occurring.
Most importantly, find out:
- whether there are any specific health risks in the country you are travelling to for which you need to take precautions, such as malaria.
- how to avoid becoming ill when you are abroad
- what to do if you become ill when you are abroad
- how to get emergency medical treatment when you are abroad
Common Health Risks and how to avoid them
You can reduce your risk of getting malaria
- Use insect repellents - repellents that contain diethyltoluamide (DEET) are the most effective.
- Wear long-sleeved shirts and long trousers whenever possible.
- Take anti malarial medication – the medication is different for different strains of malaria. Some anti-malarial medication needs to be taken several weeks before you leave home.
- Tell your GP as soon as possible if you develop a fever or an unexplained illness while you are away or indeed for up to a year after your return.
HIV and AIDS
Always use a condom, including anal and oral sex. To ensure you have a good quality condom its best to take your own supply.
Sunburn and heatstroke
- Do not wait until your skin feels uncomfortable before taking preventative action.
- Cover up with loose-fitting clothes. Make sure your legs and arms are covered. Tightly woven fabrics provide the best protection from the sun.
- Avoid direct exposure to sunlight when the sun is at its strongest
- Wear a wide-brimmed hat and a pair of good-quality sunglasses,
- Always use a sun protection lotion with an SPF of at least 15. If you have very fair skin, use lotions with an SPF of up to 40. Make sure that your entire body is covered by sun protection lotion. Apply sun lotion at least 30 minutes before you go out in the sun. Reapply it every couple of hours. Reapply sun lotion immediately after swimming, even if your lotion is waterproof.
- Cloud and fog do not protect skin from ultraviolet rays.
- Drink plenty of fluids, particularly after exercise. Isotonic drinks that replace the salt lost through sweating are ideal, but water is also sufficient.
- Avoid drinking alcoholic drinks when you are out in the sun.
If you are travelling in a country that has low standards of public hygiene and there is a risk of water contamination, avoid the following food and drink as they could trigger travellers' diarrhoea:
- tap water
- fruit juice (if sold by a street vendor)
- ice cream and ice cubes
- raw or undercooked meat
- peeled fruit
Food and drink that are generally safe to eat include:
- sealed bottled water that is produced by a recognised international manufacturer
- cooked food, such as soup or stir-fry
- canned food or food in sealed packs
- fresh bread
- unpeeled fruit
- tea and coffee
Before you go:
Sick or injured abroad
If you become ill or need hospital treatment while you’re abroad, you can contact your nearest Irish Embassy or Consulate. They can help you to deal with the situation.
- Contact your family, friends or designated emergency contact in Ireland.
- Help you to find English-speaking local doctors, medical facilities, air ambulance companies and English-language translators and interpreters.
- Communicate with medical personnel or hospital authorities. However, we don’t provide medical interpretation or medical translations.
- Transfer funds from family and friends at home to you, if necessary.