People travelling to India often have concerns about their health, no doubt having heard travellers tales involving bouts of sickness. While the pollution and dirt might make some paranoid on the other hand medical tourism is growing by leaps and bounds as people head to India for low cost treatments in first class facilities! Here are some tips and notes on basics of staying healthy when in India.
Getting aptly vaccinated before you arrive is the best prevention. Your local health clinic will be able to guide you with their specific and professional recommendations. Typhoid, Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B are the most common vaccinations that travellers to India go for. Other special vaccinations like Yellow Fever, Meningococcal or Tetanus should be taken if advised.
2. Stay hydrated but treat water sources with caution
Water is of utmost concern wherever one travels. With diarrhea as one of the most common inflictions, staying hydrated is a key concern. The good thing is that mineral (packaged) water is available readily in all parts of the country and costs not more than Rs 15/- for a reliable brand. Just to be on the safe side, ensure that you are extremely careful and buy ONLY mineral water and check the seals carefully.
Portable water purification tablets are also available in the market if you are opting to go on remote treks. Portable Aqua is a popular brand but may not be available in India. Sporting Goods stores in some cities have these, so it’s better to pick it up before you come in. Alternatively Katadyn Micropur tablets are also available online.
3. Eat freshly cooked or food you can peel
Food being the next important thing on your list, rely on the adage ‘prevention is better than cure’ and only then dig in. India can be a gastronomic delight but to prevent it from becoming a nightmare later on do the best that you can to pick the cleanest options. Avoid eating raw substances from the street stalls, freshly cooked things are the most reliable. Problem areas to avoid are ice and fruit juice. Also, if you are travelling a lot, ensure that you keep your nails short and wash your hands before meals.
4. Treating minor ailments
‘Chemists’ (drug stores) in India are hard to miss. Every city and even smaller towns have plenty. Seek the store owner’s advice on what you can pick up over the counter. Medicines for head-aches, fever and diarrhea are available very easily.
5. Seasonal harshness
Seasonal harshness is another problem that many travellers face. In summers ensure that you are protected from the sun and hydrate sufficiently. On the other hand monsoons on the western coast can be unrelenting. If hiking during this time, be careful of leeches. Try and keep dry as skin infections are common due to the moist weather. Most Westerners find the winters very pleasant in India. The problem arises with not the extent of cold but altitude handling. Medicines like Diamox are said to reduce the chances, but the best way to stay fit in the mountains in acclimatise slowly, and keep hydrated.
Simple precautions will go a long way in having a healthy stay in India and before you know it, you can throw the obsessive worry to the winds and enjoy your travels. In the unfortunate event that you do get sick for minor treatments, there may be an option of exploring Ayurveda. If you are staying in a homestay your host will ensure you can get personal care, attention and sound advice on health and safety and assist you with contacting a medical professional.
Find out about the homestay experience and don't forget to check out our ideas on things to do in India or browse our India homestays.