What You Should Do If You Feel Sick After Vacation3 min read
A great vacation can leave you with lasting memories and souvenirs, not to mention fatigue or jetlag. But what if you’re feeling a little more than just tiredness and a dread of going back to work?
Most post-vacation sicknesses are mild, such as a head cold or upset stomach. But up to eight percent of travelers are sick enough to seek doctor’s care. Following an overseas trip, there are some symptoms the Centers for Disease Control says warrant a trip to your doctor.
If you have a fever, chances are good that it is caused by a less serious illness. But if you have a fever within a month after you leave a country with malaria, you should see your doctor immediately. Even if you took antimalarial medicine, your fever could still be a symptom because the medicine isn’t 100 percent effective.
Malaria typically develops within 30 days, but the CDC says there are rare cases that lie dormant for a year or longer. Because of this, you should tell your doctor about any traveling you have done no matter how long ago it was.
Diarrhea usually clears up within a few days. Traveler’s diarrhea is the most common illness when traveling. It’s usually caused by a bacterial infection from exposure to E. coli, Campylobacter, Shigella, or Salmonella in undercooked or raw foods, contaminated food, or contaminated water – including ice cubes!
If you are experiencing diarrhea, treat it by drinking fluids to prevent dehydration; begin a diet with simple, bland foods; and, if possible, drink a solution made with oral rehydration salts.
Most cases of traveler’s diarrhea get better within one to three days without medical treatment. But if it persists for two weeks or more, contact your doctor. Prolonged bouts of diarrhea can cause you to lose nutrients. An illness of this length is typically caused by a parasitic infection that needs to be treated with medication.
Skin problems such as rashes, bug bites, fungal infections or boils, are the most common illnesses following international travel. In most cases, skin problems aren’t serious. But they could be signs of a more serious illness, especially if you also have a fever.
If you do make a visit to your doctor following a vacation, you should tell him or her about your travel. Most post-travel illnesses appear soon after a trip, but incubation periods vary, resulting in some symptoms not appearing for months to years following the initial infection. The CDC suggests providing your doctor with the following information about your trip:
- What you did on your vacation
- How long you were away
- The accommodations you stayed in
- What you ate and drank on your trip
- If you were bitten by bugs
- If you swam in fresh water
- Any other possible sources of exposure, including tattoos and piercings
Have you gotten sick after a vacation? Was it more serious than you originally thought it was? Share your experience with us.
Photo from Dreamstime.