Health and Hygiene
Diarrhoea is the most common illness suffered by visitors to Nepal. However, even though frequently debilitating in the short term, it is rarely serious. By sticking closely to a few sensible measures you will considerably minimise your chances of becoming ill. Although food for camping treks is always prepared under strictly hygienic and careful conditions, when not on such a trek pay close attention to the food you eat. Choose sensibly - refrigeration in Nepal is still not very common, or reliable, so you should endeavour to eat only freshly-cooked food. Avoid salads other than when in a hotel, large restaurant, trekking lodge, or on a camping trek, and eat only fruit that you have peeled yourself. Never eat any cooked food item that has been left out on display (e.g. quiche, meat pies, cheesecake, etc.) – most of the debilitating cases of diarrhoea or food-poisoning among our clients have been due to making unwise, post-trek food choices back in Kathmandu or Pokhara! Also, the bouts of illness usually follow a ‘Western-style’ meal outside the holiday hotel accommodation – when in doubt, Nepali food in an establishment patronized by Nepalis, or eating in your own hotel, are the safest choices just before you are preparing to leave Nepal!! If you still get diarrhoea, then drink plenty of safe water (bottled, boiled or purified with iodine or some other tried and tested preparation) and replenish your salts by using one of the widely-available oral re-hydration preparations. About eight weeks before you leave for Nepal, visit your Doctor/Physician and get the necessary inoculations. The following should be considered:
- Hepatitis A
- Meningitis A + C
- Polio (normally just a booster)
If you are visiting a low-lying area, or trekking during the monsoon, you should consult your physician about taking malaria suppressants. A herba, anti-leech preparation available from KEEP in Kathmandu, is now available, and worth trying if you are going to be walking during the months of May to September. N.B. Bring plenty of High Protection (15+) Sun Screen product, and lather it on generously a little while before every outing, especially on trek. A new, non-greasy, sunscreen preparation - P20 from Denmark - is now available at large pharmacies in UK. This needs to be applied only once a day, 15 minutes before exposure to the sun, and does not need replenishing even after swimming. Our clients have recommended this preparation to us. Click for further medical information: www.ciwec-clinic.com www.himalayanrescue.org www.high-altitude-medicine.com www.thebmc.co.uk
An addition to the products which can make trekking in hot climates more comfortable, is the Kool Tie, which is a slim neckerchief containing polymer crystals. When immersed in cold water, the crystals swell and retain moisture and coolness for several days. Wearing such a neckerchief alleviates the effects of very hot sun on the back of the neck by cooling the blood flowing to the brain via the carotid arteries & the major vascular network at the back of the neck simultaneously. Cooling this area reduces stress and can actually lower the heart rate.
A small bottle of alcohol-based hand cleanser is useful to rub on hands before eating, especially where access to washing water is difficult.