Most common travel health problems and its measures

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Traveling is fun, isn't it? If you like traveling you would want to know the unpleasantries that come along with it. If you haven't yet been stricken with any of these health problems consider yourself lucky. Learn what’s putting you at risk and how you can protect yourself.

Most Likely Health Issues

Jet lag: Older adults may have more severe jet lag and take longer to recover. Travelers can minimize jet lag by shifting to the local schedule as soon as possible. Travelers may be able to avoid jet lag by adjusting sleep schedules a few days before traveling.

Traveler's diarrhea — Contaminated food or water or anxiety and jet lag can contribute to traveler's diarrhea. It often strikes abruptly and causes four to five loose or watery bowel movements. In most cases, the traveler's diarrhea will go away in a day or two without medical treatment. Most doctors don't recommend preventive medications such as antibiotics or bismuth subsalicylate (Pepto-Bismol), except in special circumstances. The best prevention is good hand hygiene and food and water safety. International travelers should drink only bottled beverages or liquids that have been boiled. 

Motion sickness — Travelers susceptible to motion sickness should consult a physician about over-the-counter or prescription medications. Some natural remedies have been shown to reduce symptoms, too. Options include acupressure wristbands, ginger tea or dietary supplements, or aromatherapy.

Altitude sickness — is caused by dry air, a decrease in oxygen, and low barometric pressure when traveled to a higher altitude than you're used to. As a result, you may have problems, such as headaches, dehydration, and shortness of breath. Some people are affected at 5,000 feet (1,524 meters), but others aren't affected until they reach altitudes of 10,000 feet (3,048 meters) or more.

According to the World Health Organization and the CDC, some of the most common health problems associated with travel to developing countries are:

Traveler's diarrhea (by far the most common risk since it affects up to 80% of international travelers based on the destination)

Enterotoxic E. coli diarrhea


Acute febrile respiratory tract infections


Less common infections may also be a risk in certain areas. Some are related to sexual contact with an infected person: 

Hepatitis (A, B, and C)


Animal bites with rabies

Typhoid and paratyphoid fever

HIV infection

Legionella infection


Meningococcal disease

Dengue fever

Prion diseases

Yellow fever


Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS)


What you can do before Travel

Travelers of all ages traveling can benefit from a pre-travel medical appointment, ideally four to six weeks before departure. The doctor will perform a physical exam and assess the health risks associated with travel plans.


Carry a list of local doctors and hospitals at the destination.

Review health insurance plan to determine what medical services it would cover during the trip. Consider purchasing travel health and medical evacuation insurance.

Carry a card that identifies, in the local language, your blood type, chronic conditions or serious allergies, and the generic names of any medications take.

Some prescription drugs may be illegal in other countries. Call the embassy to verify that all of your prescription(s) are legal to bring with you.

Bring all the medicines (including over-the-counter medicines) you think you might need during your trip, including extra in case of travel delays. Ask your doctor to help you get prescriptions filled early if you need to.

Check the latest reports, conditions, or warnings issued by WHO or government agencies at the travel destination. This may include the spread of epidemic or necessary vaccinations.