Divers are an adventurous bunch, but the farther afield we go, the more likely we might be to encounter a health issue on the road. Here are our top tips for staying healthy on a dive trip:
Do Your Homework
Create a personal plan for what sort of travel insurance, medications and supplies you should bring along on your trip.
Visit Your Doctor
Check in with your primary-care doctor or a travel-health specialist about a month before your trip to get health advice for your destination. Medical professionals can provide necessary prescriptions or vaccinations.
Get DAN insurance
No diver should step one fin in the water without DAN insurance. The Divers Alert Network offers the gold standard of dive insurance at reasonable annual rates.
Prevent Tummy Troubles
The best way to prevent an upset stomach and traveler’s diarrhea is hand-washing, and using common sense at meal times. Stick to freshly cooked foods or raw fruits and vegetables that you can peel (like bananas). Drink bottled beverages unless you know for sure the tap water is potable.
Beat the Bugs
Malaria is one of three mosquito-borne illnesses—the other two being yellow fever and dengue fever. Of the three, dengue is the most likely to afflict travelers, and there’s no preventative medication. The best course of action is wearing long pants and sleeves at dawn and dusk, along with liberal amounts of bug spray. If you use DEET-based sprays, follow the instructions for safe use. Picaridin-based bug sprays are less irritating, and a natural alternative is oil of lemon eucalyptus. For malaria prevention, the medications might not be worth the side effects. Check with your doctor ahead of time for an accurate risk assessment.
Avoid Motion Sickness
If you know you get seasick, come prepared with preventative medications like Dramamine or Bonine, and take them at least an hour before you get on the boat. For serious sufferers of motion sickness, one of the most effective treatments is the scopolamine patch (Transderm).