I don’t want Delhi Belly. I want malaria even less.
Travelling to India is a prospect full of excitement and trepidation. You are going to a country rich in culture and diversity yet fear that the side effects could ruin your visit. I know that I don’t want Delhi Belly, I want malaria even less.
I want malaria even less than Delhi Belly because it can be devastating. I lost a friend of mine to malaria just over a decade ago so I don’t take it lightly.
So here are my top 5 essential items for a trip to India:-
- Anti-Malaria tablets.
Malaria is spread by mosquitoes and they are rife in various parts of India. Always research your destination before you go. Find out what local health risks exist at your intended location. Check with your pharmacist/GP or even go on your local foreign office website to find out.
I visit Tamil Nadu in the south of India frequently and have to take tablets branded as “Pauludrine/Avloclor”. From experience I know that there are two sets of tablets within the pack. There are two tablets I’m supposed to take once a week, plus two tablets I am supposed to take daily.
The course should begin a full week before I arrive. I continue taking the medication for the duration of my stay then for the next four weeks after I have left.
To be honest, taking these is a horrible experience, simply because they are the most foul tasting medication I have ever had! I find taking them with a glass of orange juice can help kill the taste.
After seeing what happened to a friend of mine I’ll always take this disease seriously. He worked in Africa for around a year. After a while he gave up taking anti-malaria tablets and paid the ultimate price. He contracted malaria and is with us no more. I’ve learnt from his painful mistake.
No matter what precautions you take (only eat cooked food in decent hotels, peel all fruit, etc) there is still a high risk of getting food poisoning during your trip. Coming from the west I’m used to food being prepared to typically higher hygiene standards than commonly found in India. I am less tolerant of poorly prepared food. During my first trip to India in 2001 I was ill for over a week afterwards. I suffered terrible diarrhoea and the most painful stomach cramps you could imagine.
Now I come prepared and make sure I have a fresh pack of imodium tablets to hand. My preferred choice is the leading brand Imodium. I found Imodium Plus in my local chemist. This tackles both diarrhoea and stomach cramps so it sounds like a good deal to me. Thankfully I’ve not had to try it yet but I am prepared.
- Insect repellent.
Going to a hot country with tropical weather exposes you to all sorts of bugs. Mosquitoes are my biggest worry but anything which fancies a bite of me is not welcome. I’m quite tasty apparently as I’m often bitten.
I come as prepared as I can and bring plenty of insect repellent. Lots of people swear by a product called “Jungle Formula” and I must admit it is quite good. It may also be worthwhile finding out what repellent is sold locally as this is more suited to the type of threat you face. Irrespective I always end up with some bites on me. I like to think that without the repellent I’d be a lot worse off.
No matter how much I take precautions, there is invariably the odd bite or two which I suffer. My reactions have been really bad in recent years and even the tiniest of a midge bite can have my skin flare up. A very itchy and red swelling on my limbs or face is very unpleasant. I find that taking a decent anti-histamine is very quick and effective at reducing the swelling significantly. You can also now buy these bite zappers. Basically they give a kind of electric shock charge to the bite and numb any sting.
- Sun cream
One of my Indian colleagues once told me that India has three seasons, hot, hotter and hottest! Yes it sure can get hot in India and you’ll be exposed to the sun’s rays when you are outside. An effective sun cream is what is required here. Always know what factor is best for your skin, if you burn easy then go for a higher factor. Also limit your time exposed to the sun at the height of the day and seek shade where possible.
So there are my top 5 essential items for a trip to India. Happy travels!
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