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Health Guide

Travel in Phuket presents very few problems for visitors and it is best to bear in mind that in Phuket (as with any tropical climate) abundant life forms not found in temperate regions exist. These include viruses and bacteria as well as poisonous snakes and fish.

Millions of people from around the world travel to Phuket's shores yearly and depart, usually healthier and fitter than when they arrived. A small number, however, do experience problems such as:

  • Injuries from accidents
  • Microbial and viral infections
  • Animal and insect bites
  • Coral cuts and bites from stinging fish

Other things to consider

Other things to consider, there are a number of other precautions to bear in mind while visiting Phuket:

  • Excessive sun exposure causes skin damage. Too much sun exposure causes skin cancer. Avoid burning by wearing a good sunscreen. For people with fair skin, that means a sunscreen with an SPF number of 15 or above. Darker-skinned people and those who tan without burning can safely use lower numbers. If you do get a sunburn, avoid sunbathing until the effects of the sunburn have ceased.
  • Fever in anyone visiting the tropics is a serious matter. If you or anyone near you comes down with a fever, remember, it may not be a brief mild, self-limited illness. Seek medical attention for any persistent or severe fever, especially one associated with persistent diarrhoea, vomiting, orjaundice.

For whatever reason one falls ill, however, whether from one or more of the above or from chronic illnesses or other health problems, unrelated to travel, it's reassuring to know that first class medical care is available immediately when and where the need arises.

  • Those affected by motion sickness can minimize the effects by gazing at a stable external orientational reference. This means the horizon, if you are on a boat, or straight down the road, if you are in a car. Also, attempt to hold yourself rigidly to the thing that is moving, rather than allowing yourself to be tossed back and forth within it.
  • Pregnant women should remember that most miscarriages occur during the first three months of pregnancy. This is therefore the most dangerous time to travel. Women in the last three months should avoid unnecessary medication, but vaccinations and anti-malarial drugs should still be taken where needed. Remember to stay in the vicinity of a good hospital during the last three months ofpregnancy.
  • Women travelers often find that their periods become irregular or cease while traveling. A missed period need not therefore be cause for alarm. A pregnancy check can easily be performed.
  • Finally, aircraft passengers with chronically stuffy sinuses should bring along a decongestant or they may have severe sinus pains during descent.
  • Swollen feet and ankles after a long passage are normal, and need not arouse alarm.

Traveler's Diarrhoea

Traveler's Diarrhoea requires considerable care to avoid. If you do succumb to diarrhoea, its intensity will depend on how much contaminated food or drink you consumed. If you get the runs' after eating lunch at one place, it's not a good idea to go back there again for dinner. To minimize your risk.

Eat food served steaming hot and cooked to order rather than food left out on trays or in chafing dishes. Among fruits, choose those that have to be peeled (like oranges) rather than those you consume with the skin intact (like grapes). Bread is usually safe. Favor soft drinks like Coke over fresh squeezed fruit juices or locally produced drinks like nam oy (sugar cane juice). Buffets, a great way to try a variety of local foods--and also one of the best ways to contract diarrhoea.

  • Avoid salads, uncooked fresh vegetables, and all shellfish.
  • Microorganisms clinging to people's hands are a major source of contamination. Don't eat anything that has touched your hands or those of anyone else.
  • Drinks with cube ice or tube ice are safe; drinks made with crushed ice or ice chipped from blocks are not.

Should you get a persistent case of diarrhoea, remember to drink lots of fluids as dehydration is a particular problem. If children come down with diarrhoea, it can be very serious and a physician should be contacted to recommend rehydration salts. You should also contact a physician anytime you pass blood, have violent diarrhoea or vomiting, as these are symptomatic of Amoebic Dysentery and haemorrhagic fevers like Cholera or Yellow Fever, and thus life-threatening.


Jet-Skiing

These are also activities most insurance policies refuse to cover. If you plan to drive a jet-ski, avoid alcohol before doing so; jet-ski accidents most often include alcohol consumption.

Watch out for other jet-skiers, avoid getting close to them, and remember jet-skis have no brakes! Jet-ski vendors are, in fact, all operating illegally, they have no insurance, and are not responsible in case of accident you are!

With regard to para-sailing (hanging from a parachute while being towed from a speedboat), this activity is dangerous, and has resulted in a number of deaths. Over-eager and over-confident operators will take up customers regardless of conditions. Go up only when both air and sea are calm.


Swimming in Phuket, Thailand

The first thing to remember is, don't drink and swim; almost half of all drownings occur after alcohol consumption.

Another important fact is that you cannot swim against a current of more than one knot per hour: During rainy season, strong currents like this are common off the western beaches. Don't swim out past the breakers when there is big surf from May till November (rainy season); never swim when the red flag is flying. Except during rainy season at Kata and Karon beaches, there are no lifeguards in Phuket. Uncertain swimmers should stay out of deep water.

Ear infections are common in tropical waters; prompt medical attention should not be neglected as severe infection can cause permanent damage.

  • Snorkeling is safe and fun, but avoid taking several deep breaths, or hyperventilating, before diving; you can blackout underwater.
  • Also, some species of fish and corals are poisonous, the stone fish is especially so. They are not, however, aggressive.
  • Look but don't touch, don't walk or stand on the corals. Don't allow yourself to swim into sea urchins or jellyfish; look ahead and all around you as you swim.

Scuba Diving

Older, overweight, or out-of-shape visitors should have a medical check including chest x-ray before undertaking this activity.

If you have asthma, bronchitis, epilepsy, or heart disease, or if you've ever suffered severe head injury or had chest surgery, you are probably unfit to dive. Diabetics must use special caution.

Before getting on your next flight, remember not to go scuba diving to a depth of more than 9 meters within three hours of boarding or you may experience the bends while en route.

Never dive alone, their are many certifide divers in and around Phuket that can take you on a dive tour. Use their skill and their knowledg on and around Phukets waters for your own safety.

If you like to learn more about Scuba Diving then visit our Dive pages you will get more information on these and also find good quality dive instructures and tour companies.


Sexually Transmitted

The best way to avoid contracting either STD or AIDS is to avoid sex with strangers. Failing that, use a latex condom from a reputable manufacturer.

Most bar girls and go-go boys in Phuket have frequent checkups, but that doesn't mean all do, nor does it mean they are disease free.

Certainly risk does not proceed from prostitutes alone. Suffice to say, engaging in unsafe sexual practices is risky.

Signs of STD include vaginal and penile discharges and genital ulcers. If you have any such symptoms seek medical assistance immediately and refrain from sex until you do.


Malaria in Phuket

Malaria is a parasite spread by Anopheles mosquitoes. Many of the popular jungle trekking areas of Thailand, and a number of the rural islands--particularly Koh Chang, Koh Phangan, and Koh Tao--present high risk to the traveler.

But a civilized island like Phuket is considered relatively risk free. However the best prevention is simply to use a good mosquito repellent, avoid perfumes and scented aftershaves, wear light coloured long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and shoes.

At night, sleep under a ceiling fan; mosquitoes don't like them.

Symptoms include fever, chills, sweating, severe headache, and abdominal pains.

Untreated, Malaria can be fatal; treatment is, however, very effective and recovery rapid, so if you have these symptoms see a physician right away.


Wasps & Bees

About one person in two-hundred is severely allergic to bee or wasp venom. In such cases a bee sting can be fatal. Those at risk will notice progressively serious and widespread reactions with each successive sting.

If you are stung by a bee, scrape the stinger out with a knife or fingernail and avoid grasping the pouch as this will inject more venom.

People who are severely allergic should carry an identifying tag in case they are found unconscious, and should always carry equipment for self-administration of epinephrine, which will relieve symptoms; they should see a doctor as soon as possible.


Snake Bites

Thailand has many venomous snakes. When walking at night always carry a flashlight; take special care after heavy rains. While some people suffer no reaction to the bites of even normally deadly it's after by a snakes, important being bitten snake to:

  • Keep calm.
  • Immobilize the bitten limb as far as is practicable.
  • Avoid harmfiil first aid measures.
  • Get to the hospital as soon as possible.

Most commercially available snakebite kits do more harm than good. However, the speed of the lethal effects of snake venom has been much exaggerated; a lethal dose of venom usually takes hours to kill rather than seconds.

The interval is sufficient to allow for effective treatment, thus the importance of remaining calm and hurrying to the hospital.


Geckos and Lizards

The large geckos are aggressive when cornered and will bite. Smaller lizards are harmless.

Leave the Geckos alone if you meet and tell your children the same. You will need medical attention in case you are bit, to check for signs of tetanus and diphtheria.

Scorpions are sometimes, though rarely, a danger. To the extent that they pose a threat, it's largely to campers in National Parks, where they turn up in bathrooms and bedrooms; they are usually shy, but will react when they feel threatened.

Some species in Thailand are dangerous. If you are stung, as with snakes, remain calm and get to a physician as quickly as possible.


Coral & Coral Fish

A great number of different life forms living in the coral reefs are poisonous; the stonefish is exceedingly so, and can be lethal.

None of them are aggressive however, so the best thing to do is look but don't attempt to play with or even to touch coral dwellers.

If you inadvertently scratch yourself on coral, the wound will probably prove more severe than it looks. This is because coral has a poison that aggravates the wound, and not infrequently little pieces of coral break off and cause flirther infection. Treat any coral wound, however small, as a serious matter.


Post tropical check-up

Post tropical check-up, persons who experienced illness during their travels through tropical areas, especially diarrhoea or fever, or who have been exposed to high risk of disease for even a short time should undergo a specific screening procedure before or after returning home.

Long term travelers and expatriates living in the tropics should consider undergoing the same from time-to-time because examination often reveals a lurking, unsuspected disease.

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