HEALTHY LIVING: Sun, sea and stay safe

Top holiday destination Benidorm.
Top holiday destination Benidorm.
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SCHOOL’S out for summer!

Six glorious weeks of holiday ahead - and thousands of families across South Yorkshire are ready for their well-earned break.

Many are booking trips, packing bags and getting ready to jet off in search of some sun.

Passport? Check.

Beachwear? In the bag.

But while most people think they are ready for the break, not everyone may be prepared for the practicalities of staying healthy abroad.

Karen Seabridge, a practice nurse sister at Baslow Road Surgery in Totley, part of the Central Sheffield GP Consortium, said: “We read a lot in magazines about getting our bodies ‘beach-ready’, but how many of us are ready - in every sense - for our time abroad?

“A holiday on the horizon is a good time to give yourself a quick health MOT.

“People should make sure they have had their regular health checks.

“This is especially important from anyone suffering from long-term conditions, including diabetes, asthma and high blood pressure, as different climates and time zones can affect their condition.

“Some people with chronic health conditions should see their doctor before booking a flight, as they can advise whether they’re fit enough to travel by air.

“Depending on the severity of their condition, they may need an evaluation before flying because of reduced oxygen levels at high altitude.

“We also suggest people with diabetes wear shoes like Crocs on the beach rather than going barefoot, as often diabetics have a condition called peripheral neuropathy.

“This condition affects the nerve endings especially in the feet and can alter the sensation, therefore, if they tread on something sharp they are less likely to feel it which could lead to a serious infection.”

She addded: “Anyone on any regular prescribed medication should always take enough to last the duration of the trip plus a few extra days and carry in hand luggage, along with a printed record of what they are taking.”

But even those without any special health issues need to be organised.

Karen said: “We recommend preparing a month to six weeks before travel by checking all your vaccinations are up to date, such as polio, tetanus, hepatitis A and typhoid.

“If not, arrange booster jabs at your local surgery.

“Some travel vaccinations are free, others involve a charge, but your local practice nurse can advise on which you will need depending on where you are travelling to.

“Vaccinations are not mandatory for all countries but we always advise people to have them as some of the diseases they protect you against can be quite nasty.”

And while people are setting out with high hopes for their holidays, it pays to think ahead to any injuries or illnesses that could strike while away from home.

“We always recommend taking out travel insurance,” said Karen.

“A European Health Insurance Card entitles you to reduced-cost or free medical treatment - but only in Europe and it may not cover all the costs of your treatment.

“Shop around for the best insurance deal, be honest about declaring existing conditions and read up on your policy.

“Some patients have been hit by huge premiums because they have, for example, had major surgery or chronic medical conditions and the insurance won’t cover these.”

When it comes to packing, priorities should go beyond basics for holidaymakers looking to stay in maximum health to get the most out of their break.

“Packing a few over-the-counter medicines could be a useful precaution, but check what you are allowed to take,” said Karen.

“We recommend people buy insect repellent creams which contain at least 50 per cent DEET.

“If you are travelling to a developing country, oral rehydration salts are extremely useful but avoid anti-diarrhoea tablets unless absolutely necessary.

“Most cases of holiday diarrhoea are infective and these tablets slow down the passage of the diarrhoea causing the infection to stay in the body for longer.

“It is better to use the rehydration salts and drink plenty of water. Some regions also need antimalarial tablets which should be organised before you travel.

“On budget flights in particular, patients tell us they are increasingly finding their baggage allowance won’t allow them to squeeze in extras like a basic first aid kit so the alternative is purchasing essentials items when you arrive instead.

“The old adage ‘better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it’ can all too often be true.”

But, despite all the warnings, Karen said there is one thing everyone must remember: “Last but not least, the final doctors’ orders are to have a happy and healthy holiday!”