When traveling, you want to visit lots of places… except the doctor’s office! But events shape the adventure and sometimes you can get ill on the road. Whatever the cause, you must always be prepared to handle any health problems abroad.
Before consulting a doctor
● Call your insurance company if you are able to do so and ask them to refer you to a hospital or international clinic near you. You’re insured and the recommended locations meet Western standards. In addition, some medical centers are connected directly with the insurance companies and could prevent you from having to pay for medical expenses. If you are not able to call your insurance company, ask at the clinic where you are admitted to make an agreement with your insurer by giving them a copy of your insurance certificate.
● Be careful if you are offered to visit the doctor at the hotel where you reside. You must make sure it is professional and not the shaman of the village. Insist on going to a recognized medical center.
● Beware of anyone who offers you drugs to relieve yourself without being a doctor or a qualified pharmacist, including other travelers. Although people mean well, they lack the skills to diagnose you. Seemingly innocuous medication such as Advil or Aspirin can have adverse effects on your health and even dangerous in case of dengue (tropical fever), for example.
● Make sure that you go to walk-in clinic or accept emergency treatment.
● Prepare a list of your symptoms in order of their appearance. Note also the duration of each symptom. (For example, I had a fever for 24 hours, followed by mild vomiting which has intensified, etc.)
● If you do not speak the language, try to find a “friend” who speaks the local language to accompany you. You can gently ask someone who works at the hotel where you stay to go with you to the clinic. If this is not possible, bring a dictionary or a translation phone app with you.
During the consultation with the doctor
● Inform the doctor or pharmacist abroad of the medications that you take regularly (ideally, bring them with you to show him the names on the labels.)
● Do not forget to mention your allergies. If you have significant allergies, you can prepare a list in advance with a translation of your list of allergies in the language of the country you visit.
● Remember that the doctor you visit abroad has no access to your medical history, it is your responsibility to make them aware of your medical history.
● Pay attention to medications that you are prescribed. Make sure you understand the reason for each drug. Ask the professional to repeat and take notes if necessary.
After seeing the doctor
● Always keep your receipts for medical treatment and medicines. These will be crucial documents to accompany your claim.
● Request a second opinion if an operation or surgery is recommended and if your situation allows. Call your insurance company to ensure that this operation will be covered.
● Contact your family doctor by phone or a doctor from your country in case of doubt of treatment.
● Finish your treatment in full even if you feel better. Some people stop taking antibiotics as soon as the symptoms disappear. The bacteria that fights you may be active in your body and could come back stronger than ever. Strictly follow the treatment dose you start.
To speed your recovery, settle down in a comfortable place, even change hostel and pay a little more for somewhere clean, airy and accommodation with air conditioning, example.
You have to put the odds on your side and create a relaxing and familiar environment. Remain hydrated by drinking water and trying to take your mind off it by reading a novel or watching a film. Wash your hands regularly so as not to contaminate you again or catch another disease. It is important not to be stressed or to go read horror stories on the Internet. Sometimes talking to relatives at home can be comforting. Remain positive and return and consult a doctor if necessary.
By following these rules, you maximize the chances of receiving quality medical consultation abroad and being ready to continue your journey. After all, you’re not the first person to fall ill while traveling, it will pass!
Article by Nomad Junkies team