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HEALTH TIPS


Visiting India!. Going to India, you have to adapt to a new climate and new foodstyle. Most travelers to India will become at least slightly ill during their stay there - even Indians returning from abroad can become ill as their bodies had to readjust to the food, bugs, climate and sanitation conditions. However, with precautions the chance and severity of any illness can be minimized. Don't stress yourself too much at the beginning of your journey to allow your body to acclimatize to the country. For example, take a day of rest upon arrival, at least on your first visit. Many travelers get ill for wanting to do too much in too little time. Be careful with spicy food if it is not your daily diet.

No vaccinations are required for entry to India, except for yellow fever if you are coming from an infected area such as Africa. However, Hepatitis (both A and B, depending on your individual circumstances), meningitis and typhoid shots are recommended, as is a booster shot for tetanus.

Tap water is generally not safe for drinking. However, some establishments have water filters/purifiers installed, in which case the water may be safe to drink. Packed drinking water (popularly called "mineral water" throughout India) is a better choice. Bisleri, Kinley are popular and safe brands. But if the seal has been tampered, it could be purified tap water. So always make sure that seal is intact before buying. On Indian Railways, a particular mineral water brand is generally available known as "Rail Neer", which is safe and pure.

Fruits that can be peeled such as apples and bananas, as well as packaged snacks are always a safe option. Eat grapes only after thoroughly washing and soaking them for atleast 3 to 4 hours in warm water.

Diarrhea is common, and can have many different causes. Bring a standard first-aid kit, plus extra over-the-counter medicine for diarrhea and stomach upset. A rehydration kit can also be helpful. At the least, remember the salt/sugar/water ratio for oral rehydration: 1 tsp salt, 8 tsp sugar, for 1 litre of water. Most Indians will happily share their own advice for treatment of illnesses and other problems. A commonly recommended cure-all is to eat boiled rice and curd (yoghurt) together for 3 meals a day until you're better. Keep in mind that this is usually not sound medical advice. Indians have resistance to native bacteria and parasites that visitors do not have. If you have serious diarrhea for more than a day or two, it is best to visit a private hospital. Parasites are a common cause of diarrhea, and may not get better without treatment.

Malaria is endemic throughout India. Studies state that risk exists in all areas, including the cities of Delhi and Mumbai, and at altitudes of less than 2000 metres in Himachal Pradesh, Jammu, Kashmir, and Sikkim; however, the risk of infection is considered low in Delhi and northern India. Get expert advice on malaria preventatives, and take adequate precautions to prevent mosquito bites. Use a mosquito repellent when going outside (particularly during the evenings) and also when sleeping in trains and hotels without airconditioning. A local mosquito repellent used by Indians is Odomos and is available at most stores.

India is home to many venomous snakes. If bitten, try to note the markings of the snake so that the snake can be identified and the correct antidote given. In any event, immediately seek medical care.

Medical facilities are generally good in major centres, but are usually very limited or unavailable in rural areas.

Dengue fever is prevalent in some areas of India, including New Delhi where there has been an increase in reported casesof late. Residents and travellers are advised to take appropriate precautions to protect themselves from contracting dengue fever by using mosquito repellent (DEET) and avoiding swampy or low-lying areas where mosquitoes are more prevalent. Using physical barriers such as mosquito nets, long-sleeved shirts and other physical protections is also recommended. People experiencing flu-like symptoms (loss of energy, fever, aching joints and muscles) are advised to seek medical attention immediately.

Getting vaccinations and blood transfusions in low quality hospitals increases your risk of contracting HIV/AIDS and other communicable diseases.

It is very important to stay away from the many stray dogs and cats in India, as India has the highest rate of rabies in the world. If you are bitten it is extremely urgent to get to a hospital in a major urban area capable of dealing with Rabies. You can get treatment at any major hospital. It is very important to get the rabies vaccine after any contact with animals that includes contact with saliva or blood. Rabies vaccines only work if the full course is given prior to symptoms. The disease is almost invariably fatal otherwise.

If you need to visit a hospital in India, avoid small clinics and government hospitals in smaller towns and cities. The quality of treatment cannot be to your expectation. Private hospitals provide better service.

If you have asthma India can be difficult, as incense is burning everywhere, even in restaurants and no smoking areas.