Planning to travel to India and worried about getting sick? Well I have had it all. Amoebic dysentery, Guardia, infections, the lot. So in other words I have learned the hard way on what works and what doesn’t work when travelling in India. And I would like to share that with you my findings so you can have a healthy journey to that sacred land!
Build up your immune system
Start to take pro-biotics from a reputable brand like Bio Care at least one month before you travel and also whilst travelling. Why I say that is Western countries are clean so when we travel to places like India, which are much dirtier, our bodies can’t handle the onslaught of germs and parasites.
The people of India are exposed to them too but because their systems are so used to them they can eradicate them a lot easier. Now that is not to say they don’t get sick, but they get sick less frequently.
When in Rome do as the Romans do
In other words if you get sick in India go to a local homeopath or aryuvedic doctor and ask them for advice. India is awash with choices of natural medicine as well as allopathic treatments.
But as our bodies are already drained from fighting an illness putting antibiotics into them is only going to reduce our chances of fighting off infections later on in our trip.
However if things are just not clearing up after a reasonable amount of time then I do believe in extreme cases there is a place for anti-parasitic and anti-biotic medications but they are certainly not the first port of call.
In India government run Aryuvedic & Homeopathic hospitals (yes they do actually have them in most major towns) dispense natural medicines free of charge. Private doctors will also run clinics where the fees are minimal in comparison to Western medical fees.
On my last trip to India when I had amoebic dysentery I went to the local allopathic hospital, got tested to see what infection I had then I with my diagnosis I went to the local Homeopathic hospital. Now anyone who has had this illness knows how scary it can be but the symptoms cleared up almost immediately after I took the homeopathic remedies.
If I had taken anti-parasitics they may have not worked, which has happened me in the past, plus they are so strong they can cause nausea and hallucinations.
Sourcing Medicines & Treatment
Don’t panic! Remember you are in a country where other travellers are getting the same illnesses all the time. The local clinics both allopathic and natural are used to it. They know what to do. The local taxi drivers will help get you where you need to go.
There are both natural and allopathic pharmacies in India also with some wonderful local remedies easily available. I always carry a Helios Homeopathy remedy kit for travelling. When it needs to be filled up I simply bring it to a homeopathic clinic in India where they restock my remedies for a tenth of the price it would cost back home.
Another must have is Echinacea. I don’t suffer from colds and flu in the West but I do in India and this always clears it up right away. You can source it in your local health food shop. This is a rare thing to find in India and is not as potent over there.
Prevention is better than cure
So that is what we can do if we get sick but how can we prevent ourselves from succumbing to illness in the first place?
Always use hand sanitiser, which can be bought locally very cheaply, before every meal and after using the bathroom. If you are given a glass in a restaurant that has drops of water in it give it a wipe with a clean napkin to soak it up.
Only eat salads in restaurants that you know are using high-grade filtered water to wash the vegetables with. Usually it will say it on the menu but if in doubt ask another traveller. This is usually only an available luxury in the more touristic areas. If you want to ensure you never get sick then just don’t risk a fresh juice anywhere.
In some guidebooks they will tell you to dive into the street food in India. Well I have done so and regretted it many times. If you have a few days to spare before you need to travel again and are ok with the risk then it is up to you.
But if you are the type that wants to be safe rather than sorry, stick to the cleaner restaurants. And with each meal take digestive enzymes so if there is anything in the food that will help eradicate it.
Safe drinking water
One thing you will notice in India is all the plastic bottles dumped everywhere. It is heartbreaking but as so many tourists believe it is their only source of clean water I can see why it is such an issue. Bottle water believe it or not is less regulated than tap water so has a higher chance of contamination: that is globally by the way not just in India.
So what can you do? There are a few options. If you have the facilities you can boil the local tap water to kill any germs it may contain.
There are filter water bottles you can buy that filter the water as you drink it – my personal favourite! And there are also tablets you can put in tap water to sterilise it. All of these options keep you healthy and stop more plastic rubbish building up and causing harm to the local environment and animals.
I hope that helps you have an even better trip to India. If you have any questions please feel free to get in touch.
Photo Credit: Flickr/Bijoy Mohan