What should I do if I get sick on vacation?

Dr. Darria Long Gillespie, MD
Emergency Medicine
The best way to care for any illness while on vacation is to prepare for it ahead of time. Before you go on any trip to a foreign country, rural destination, or developing nation, check the State Department website (or CDC) about potential health risks, as well as resources. Consider getting traveler's health insurance, and also speak with your local travel health clinic to make sure you take with you any medications that you may need for illnesses specific to that region.  I always also take along my own over-the-counter medications, as even these can be very different (or hard to find) in other countries.
If you're on vacation and you get sick, the best thing to do is to get checked out at the nearest emergency room, clinic or urgent care. The same applies if you are out of the country. If traveling out of the country, you should plan ahead by seeking advice from your PMD concerning vaccines, medical supplies, and disease common to that particular area. If sick in a foreign country, also contact the embassy for recommended local medical facilities.

Here is what to do if you get sick on vacation:

  • Consult a physician. If you have any of the following symptoms you should seek medical attention immediately: bloody diarrhea, severe abdominal pain, high fever or dehydration.
  • Ease the symptoms on your own. To ease the symptoms of diarrhea while on vacation, try an over-the-counter medication such as Pepto Bismol or Imodium, which come in various forms and you can pack in your suitcase beforehand.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.