Travel health: May'14

Publish date: 28/05/2014

Hello everyone and welcome to today's Live Chat about 'Travel health'! Ask any questions you have around travel health here.

Rahim asked: I have been having a problem with my upper abdomen it all started when I got pregnant I kept getting tightened like someone is squeezing my upper abdomen really hard to the point when I can't not breath and when I lie down it become worse I kept going hospital many times for it and doctors said it could be the heart burn because I have suffered a lot from it during my pregnancy, and they said after giving birth it shouldn't happen to me again but it did happen one week after I gave birth and it was worse than ever it also took long to stop and I ended up again in the hospital but they couldn't tell what's the problem they kept said is acid or gas, and that was the last time I had it, but now I get bloating in my upper abdomen sometimes and every time I start eating or drink I feel bloated I also feel uncomfortable in my upper abdomen and it became hard I'm still waiting for the hospital to have a camera going down my upper abdomen to check as hospitals take very long time and they already cancelled my appointment twice, I had an ultrasound months ago for liver and kidney and all was normal, what do you think the problem I have? Looking forward to hear from you. Thank You

Dr Steve Iley answered: Thanks for the question Rahim. You didn't say if you had travelled recently. The symptoms you describe do sound like 'acid heartburn' or reflux disease (GERD). The best test is the camera and they may also look to check for certain other causes that are associated with this condition including some bacteria. This condition is associated with pregnancy but also other things including certain foods, and hiatus hernia. Good luck with the tests and you should see your doctor as soon as possible if you feel worse or notice blood in your vomit. Steve


If you missed our live chat and have any further questions relating to travel health, then why not ask our panel of experts a question?


Thi asked: Hello Team, I have recently traveled to Tahiti and contracted Dengue fever. It was diagnosed on the 2/4/2014. However, im still feeling very bad with symptoms like numbness in my arms, shortness of breath, chest pain, muscles pain and fatigue.Can you please advise how long it would take to feel better? and also is it normal to have relapse of the symptoms? It has been 1.5 months and im not getting better. Thanks.

Dr Steve Iley answered: Hi Thi. Dengue fever is caused by being bitten by mosquitoes carrying the dengue virus. It causes muscle and joint pains, fever, headaches and a rash. It can sometimes cause a much more sever illness called Dengue Heamorrhagic Fever with anaemia, blood loss and shock. Both these conditions are acute and usually short lived with appropriate treatment. Dengue fever does not usually last longer than 2-3 weeks. Given the length of your symptoms there may be other conditions that need to be excluded including some tropical illnesses. I recommend that you see your doctor and preferably see a doctor who has a specialist interest in travel medicine. They should check you and take some blood tests to look for other potential conditions. Best of luck, Steve.

AXA PPP healthcare asked: We have a question  from Twitter: @breckonjones "Top health tips for traveling to Bali with a toddler? #travelhealth"

Dr Steve Iley answered: Hi, always remember the basics for any travel especially with a toddler. Safe food and water, sun exposure and accidents. Bali, in Indonesia has a number of tropical disease to be aware of and some diseases you may not think of. Measles can occur in outbreaks so routine childhood immunisations should be up to date. Malarial risk is small on Bali itself but high in nearby islands that you can visit on trips. Cholera, Diptheria, Hepatitis, Typhoid and Tetanus are all potential risks so a proper travel risk assessment is definitely recommended at a travel clinic who can give you proper advice on what needs to be given. Children dehydrate quicker than adults so you should be extra cautious about food and water, take along some rehydration salts for use if diarrhoea should occur. Prickly heat is also more common in children, caused by a build up of sweat in the glands. Keep them cool, in the shade, use 100% cotton clothing to prevent it. Once it happens, bathe in cool water, pat dry and use calamine lotion or baby talc. Don't forget animals are a great attraction for toddlers but carry disease so should not be touched. Cover them up in the sun, use high factor sunscreen or a sunsuit, children aren't interested in a tan ... they just want to play. Bali is a fantastic place and you will have a great time with some precautions as above. Have fun, Steve.

Jason asked: Not so much a health question but I was wondering what with the recent Coup in Thailand how does something like this effect travel insurance?

Dr Steve Iley answered: Hi Jason, A good question. Travel insurance can be affected by political events in countries and most policies have exclusions if you travel against both medical advice and/or the advice of the Foreign and Commonealth Office. The FCO currently advises against all but essential travel to the provinces of Pattani, Yala, Narathiwat and Songkhla on the Thai-Malaysia border due to unrest. The rest of the country is green. This situation can change rapidly so it is always a good idea to check the advice regularly and if in doubt check with the travel company. Like all insurance read the small print! Steve

AXA PPP healthcare asked: We've had some questions from a couple of bloggers too: "In your experience what are some of the more common activities that people are injured doing abroad that they might not be aware is not covered by their insurance?"

Dr Steve Iley answered: Thanks for the question. Travel insurance policies always have exclusions. Depending on the policy depends on what is excluded. Common activities that are exclusions include many sports that some people think of as a normal activity including horse riding, skateboarding and team sports. Skiing often requires additional cover and most adventure sports require additional cover. It is very important to check the details as sporting activities such as diving have a depth limit so there are more small print items within the small print! Hiring mopeds oftern catches travellers out as the insurance rules often state that a proper uk license is needed whereas local laws may allow anyone to hire one. Most activites can be covered with additional premiums paid so talk to your insurance and if it is a spur of the moment decision be very careful what you decide to do. Steve.


If you missed our live chat and have any further questions relating to travel health, then why not ask our panel of experts a question?


AXA PPP healthcare asked: Another question: "Are travellers still covered if under the influence of alcohol? Are 1 or 2 drinks generally ok or could having any alcoholic drinks void the travel insurance when injured?"

Dr Steve Iley answered: A great question as this is of relevance to many many travellers. Alot of us want to go on holiday, relax and enjoy ourselves and part of that is having a nice cold beer or cocktail... however most people don't realise that almost all travel insurance policies have exclusions or restrictions in them regarding the use of alcohol. The wording in the policy can very, some say "if alcohol puts you in needless risk" or "makes your judgement seriously affected". However other insurers are looking for exact blood alcohol content and will investigate some claims in much more depth if they suspect alcohol played a part. I am not aware of a policy that excludes all alcohol and most insurers accept that a few drinks are part of normal holiday activities. The tipping point comes when it can be argued that so much alcohol was consumed that it affected judgement or safety and this will vary between individuals. As with all things moderation is OK, if you choose to drink more than that be aware of the risks you are taking and the potential consequences. Steve.

Sign up to our monthly Better Health newsletter to receive updates on our latest health and wellbeing articles.

Sign up to newsletter

Ask the expert

Got a question?
Our team of medical experts are ready to help.