Minor stomach upsets are common due to changes in diet and climate but are usually brief and some day may have the problem of high altitude sickness.
What should I carry in my first aid, medical kit?
Our guides carry a small first aid kit and are trained in its effective use but it is never the less a good idea for you to carry some of your own, do remember to bring any prescription medication you may require and if you are taking anti malarial bring sufficient amounts. First aid can include cleaning minor cuts, scrapes, or scratches; treating a minor burn; applying bandages and dressings; the use of non-prescription medicine; draining blisters; removing debris from the eyes; massage; and drinking fluids to relieve heat stress.
In alphabetical order, we have compiled a list of items we think could be useful but don’t think you need to haul all these items along with you every time – there’s a difference between a trip to Thailand and a stay in Nepal. Think through the trip and buy what you need in sufficiently small portions. Don’t forget medicines in your first-aid kit have a limited lifetime. If unsure ask your pharmacist for advice to ensure the contents of your kit remain effective and safe to use. It is particularly important to consult your doctor if you are pregnant as many suggestions below may have adverse effects.
Antihistamine tablets and creams are effective against allergies, itching, skin rashes and insect bites. Be aware that some do cause drowsiness, so caution will be required when driving.
Unfamiliar food and travel can cause constipation. A laxative can be used in the short term. Constipation is best prevented with a high-fibre diet and fluids.
If you have diarrhoea when travelling it is important to keep hydrated by drinking oral rehydration solutions such as Dioralyte. In an emergency many travel health professionals also recommend taking the antibiotic ciprofloxacin (e.g. Ciproxin), a prescription-only medicine, and you should discuss its use with your doctor before leaving for areas where it might be needed.
Medicines such as lope amide (e.g. Imodium) can be used for short-term treatment of mild diarrhoea, and are useful when travelling.
Heartburn and stomach acid
If you have a tendency to suffer from stomach acid, heartburn and a burning sensation when you consume sharp-tasting foods and drinks, take an antacid with you.
Infection and inflammation
If you think you may need antibiotics when travelling abroad; you should discuss this with your doctor before you leave. Your doctor can prescribe what you need. In Nepal and India antibiotics are available without prescription and without visiting a doctor, but as far as possible you should consult a doctor before taking antibiotics.
Painkillers are indispensable for headaches, muscle pain, toothache and menstrual pain. Take a remedy containing aspirin (e.g. Aspro clear), paracetamol (e.g. Panadol) or ibuprofen (e.g., Nurofen).
Blister packs are preferable, because loose or effervescent tablets may absorb moisture from the air and become ineffective.
Syringes and needles
Having your own syringes, needles and possibly scalpels ensures a high level of hygiene can be achieved if you have to be admitted to hospital particularly in Asia where standard of hygiene are lower than in the Western world. Most travel clinics and large pharmacies have packs with sterile needles.
Thermometer, scissors and tweezers
A small digital thermometer is handy if you suspect a high temperature. Scissors and tweezers may also prove useful.
The discomfort caused by travel sickness in the air, car or at sea can be prevented with the use of antihistamines. A pharmacist can advise which ones are suitable for your circumstances.
Sores and blisters
Take a skin-disinfecting agent with you to clean sores, e.g. a small bottle of chlorhexidine. Antiseptic wipes are also useful. Bandages and plasters are useful to have at hand in case an accident should happen. Blisters can be helped with a special plaster, available from pharmacies.
Sunburn is prevented with a sun block cream that has a high sun protection factor (SPF). A natural remedy with aloe vera may alleviate any redness after sunbathing. Local anaesthetics and painkilling gel may be useful in dealing with problems caused by too much sun. Discuss such treatment with your pharmacist.
As with diarrhoea, the important point is to replace lost fluids. Frequent small drinks, if possible using ones that contain salt and sugar, are preferred.
Water purification tablets
Water purification tablets can be purchased from pharmacies or outdoor pursuit’s stores around the world. Excellent containers that act as physical and chemical filters are now available from large chemists and travel clinics.
If you are Travelling to Himalaya (High Altitude Sickness)
Altitude sickness, often known as Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) is a particularly important medical consideration while Trekking in Nepal. Altitude sickness means the effect of altitude on those who ascend too rapidly to elevations above 3000 meters.
You may want to consider taking some Diamox which helps the body absorb Oxygen more efficiently but again do talk to your doctor to get the most up to date recommendations and dosage.
The initial symptoms of AMS are as follows:
• Nausea, vomiting
• Loss of appetite
• Persistent headache
• Dizziness, light headedness, confusion
• Disorientation, drunken gait
• Weakness, fatigue, lassitude, heavy legs
• Slight swelling of hands and face
• Breathlessness and Breathing irregularity
• Reduced urine output
These symptoms are to be taken very seriously. In case of an appearance of any of the above symptoms any further ascent should be avoided; otherwise more serious, even life-threatening problems can occur. The only cure for Altitude Sickness is to descend to lower elevations immediately. Acclimatization by ascending to no more than 300 to 500 meters per day above 3000 meters, and the proper amount of rest and re hydration are the best methods for prevention of Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS).
In case of emergency a helicopter is operated for rescue.