How to Cope If You Get Sick While Traveling
Working while you’re sick is the total pits — but traveling when you feel terrible is the absolute WORST. Whether you’re coming down with a bad cold while trying to make the most of your first solo trip abroad or, like Amy Schumer and her boyfriend in Paris, suffering from a severe case of food poisoning while on vacation with your bae, it can be hard to deal when you can’t just pop in to see your usual doc. To get some expert tips on how to take care of yourself while on an adventure, we chatted with Dr. Jack Dybis, an osteopathic physician from IVme Chicago. An advocate for avoiding ineffective or dangerous home remedies at all costs, he schooled us on when it’s okay to rest and when you’ve really gotta get yourself to a medical professional.
IF YOU HAVE A Bad Cold
Dr. Dybis tells us that nipping a cold in the bud as soon as you feel it coming on is key. He says, “When you’re well-rested, you can better fight off any foreign invaders (in this case, viruses).” He also recommends staying as hydrated as you can to support your immune system. If you can find over-the-counter remedies, he says to opt for basic meds that can reduce symptoms: oral vitamin C, echinacea, zinc and cold elixirs such as DayQuil and Cold-EEZE are all good choices. He adds, “Vitamin B can help increase your energy — which might be especially important if you need to muster some up while traveling.”
if you have A Cough
“In general, for persistent coughs paired with other symptoms, you may need an antibiotic and to see a physician ASAP,” Dr. Dybis says. “For dry coughs, an over-the-counter cough suppressant can help knock it out.” He warns that a dry cough that won’t go away also merits a trip to the doc.
As for remedies, Dr. Dybis swears by tea to soothe your throat, decrease any inflammation you might have and loosen mucus. Adding honey can help further protect your throat. Another option worth trying is peppermint and ginger in lemon juice. “This mix can help the tickle in your throat that causes you to cough,” Dr. Dybis says. If you’re still in pain, you can opt for throat lozenges if they’re available wherever you are.
if you have The Flu
Even with the most excellent hand-washing habits, picking up the flu can unfortunately just happen. If you feel yourself coming down with symptoms, Dr. Dybis says to follow the steps you would with a bad cold — and to remember that the flu is a virus that will hopefully run its course and pass as quickly as possible. If you do feel fluish, he advises, “Keep washing your hands, stay hydrated and REST.” If you can’t seem to recover, he says you should definitely seek out care from a local doctor. “It’s really not worth risking a ‘super-infection’ on top of the flu virus.”
Pro tip: Opt to get a flu shot well before you travel. “Prevention is the best way to treat the flu,” notes Dr. Dybis.
if you have Strep Throat
A horrible sickness that can even affect your stomach (who knew?), strep is one case that Dr. Dybis says may require an antibiotic, so he suggests seeing a doctor. While waiting, you can gargle with warm salt water to relieve inflammation and soothe your throat, and you should make sure to rest rather than push your immune system to the brink.
“Although it might be difficult to swallow, it’s still VERY important to maintain adequate hydration,” he reminds us. “You should try room-temperature or warm liquids such as tea. When it comes to food, find the softest foods you can. Choose foods that are high in water content, such as fruits and vegetables.”
if you have Food Poisoning
Food poisoning is a traveler’s nightmare that can leave you curled up on your hostel floor or stuck inside the restroom for days at a time. While the more obvious symptoms are downright terrible, Dr. Dybis reminds us that dehydration is our biggest concern. “Try to keep fluids down orally, if possible,” he says. “If you can stomach food, go with the BRAT diet: bananas, rice, applesauce and toast.” Though this can be tough if you’re in a far-off corner of the world, it will help to eat the most plain and hydrating foods you can.
In severe instances that come with persistent abdominal pain, you should get professional medical help ASAP. Dr. Dybis notes that some people who have suffered drastic illness might need IV therapy (yikes!) to stay hydrated when their stomach is ultra-irritated.
Have you been super sick while traveling? Tell us how you got healthy again on Twitter @BritandCo!
(Photos via Getty)