Staying safe abroad is absolutely vital, so make sure you have all the right information

We all want to stay safe and healthy when travelling, but with so much information out there it can be difficult to know what’s true and what’s not. Being aware of the relevant risks and treatments is hugely important, so that’s why we’re here to do some myth-busting and confirm what’s true and what’s false in travel health.

True or false? “It’s usually better to drink bottled water”

True. In some parts of the world it is difficult to maintain a high level of water quality, putting you more at risk of serious conditions like typhoid fever. So if you’re travelling further afield, it’s usually best to stick to bottled water (just make sure the seal is intact). It may also be safer to use bottled water to brush your teeth in some areas of the world.

Here’s another little important tip: make sure bottles of water are opened in your presence when you dine in a restaurant abroad.

True or false? “Only dogs carry rabies”

False. Any mammal can carry rabies on their saliva, meaning you can become infected through being bitten or scratched by an animal that has licked its paw.

If you do get bitten or scratched, wash the wound with soap and water for several minutes. Then apply disinfectant and seek immediate medical treatment.

True or false? “Malaria tablets cause worse symptoms than malaria itself”

False. Malaria is a serious disease and in many cases can prove fatal. It takes just one bite to catch malaria, and it often leads to severe nausea and lethargy. While some people do experience side effects from malaria tablets, it is proven that this important medication saves lives around the world.

In the majority of cases, the side effects of malaria tablets are either mild or non-existent. If you are concerned about taking malaria tablets it is important to seek advice from your pharmacist or travel clinician, rather than avoiding treatment altogether.

Contact the Express Travel Clinic team on 0208 9935889. 

True or false? “Sleep is the best cure for jet lag”

False. Jet lag isn’t caused by a simple lack of sleep, but rather through the disruption caused to an individual’s circadian rhythm (body clock) when crossing time zones.

The best cure for jet lag is to try and adjust yourself to your new time zone as quickly as possible. If you arrive at your destination at 7am, it’s best to get outside in the natural light, indulge in some gentle exercise and try to stay awake until night falls in your new location.

True or false? “You shouldn’t swim straight after eating”

False. Multiple studies carried out on athletes have found no evidence that swimming after eating a meal causes stomach cramps, nausea or increases your risk of drowning. You might find it more comfortable to wait a while, but you’re not putting yourself at risk by swimming straight away.

Studies have found, however, that drinking alcohol and then swimming does put you at higher risk of drowning.

True or false? “Urine cures jellyfish stings”

False. This is an old wives’ tale with absolutely no evidence behind it. Pouring bottled water or seawater over a sting is much more effective at easing the pain — and much more pleasant too!

According to jellyfish expert Dr Peter Richardson, “peeing on a jellyfish sting” is not advisable and may even cause the sting to burn more. However, some jellyfish stings are alkaline and can be treated effectively with vinegar.

True or false? “You’re more likely to catch a cold on a plane”

True. People are up to 100 times more likely to catch a cold on a plane than they are to catch one in their day to day lives, according to a study published in the Journal of Environmental Health Research.

This is because bacteria are often transported from one country to another via planes, and the overuse of antibiotics in some areas causes an increase in bacteria which are resistant to antibiotics. The close quarters and heavily-used door handles, plane seats and air circulatory systems also increase your chances of catching a cold.

Don’t take any chances when it comes to staying safe and healthy abroad. For all the information you need on risks, prevention and treatment, contact Express Travel Clinic today.