Uncommon Health Concerns
More Ways To Stay Healthy
Most Caribbean travelers do not have any health problems but in case you do, it never hurts to be prepared.
Usually the result of a bacterial infection or from consuming strange foods and drink (beware those rum punches). Always carry your own water and avoid drinking from streams or falls, no matter how clear/clean they look or how much the locals reassure you.
In some remote regions, tap water may be unsafe during the rainy season. Diarrhea and dehydration are the most serious problems: drink plenty of fluids except alcohol and milk, which seem to prolong bouts of diarrhea. A bland diet of tea and toast seems to help some people. Loperamide (brand name Imodium) and atropine (Lomotil) help control the problem.
If you have fever and severe abdominal pains, pass blood in your stools and generally feel weak, you may have been unlucky enough to contract amoebic or bacillary dysentery. If in doubt, see a doctor immediately and see a physician once you return home to minimize long-term health effects.Colds & Allergies
It's possible to get a cold in the Caribbean but it is more likely you will suffer an allergic reaction to a plant you may have never encountered before. With hundreds of species of trees, flowers and orchids, something is always in bloom, always dropping pollen. Bring non-drowsy antihistamines to plug the sniffles and stop watery eyes during the day. At night, don't worry about something that may knock you out. Take whatever works best and get some sleep.
If you are worried about food allergies becoming a problem, there's a web site with lots of helpful information about traveling on airlines and ordering in restaurants. It's called Select Wisely.
Also called schistosomiasis, this parasite is common in lakes or slow-moving streams infested with snails. It can enter the body through an open cut or by drinking the water. This disease has been around a long time, as the mummies of ancient Egyptian pharaohs have revealed. Bilharzia can be fatal. Islands where this has been a problem are few: Martinique , Guadeloupe and St. Lucia .Hookworms
In addition to comfort, these are a good reason for always wearing shoes: Hookworms are picked up by walking barefoot.
When the humidity is high, it's easy to develop a rash. Avoid it by powdering yourself in the morning and evening with talcum powder or powder containing zinc, such as Gold Bond. Never hike in tight jeans or clothes that bind.
Currently found periodically in Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Costa Rica and occasionally in Trinidad. Anti-malaria treatment, available under a doctor's care, begins well before departure and must continue afterwards. Most tourists are content with insect repellent and suffer none the worse for it.
It is becoming increasingly present but nowhere near the levels of the U.S. Primary means of transmission is through heterosexual contact. Condoms are not always available. Women as well as men who intend to seek a new sexual partner should carry their own condoms.
Warning: A lot of rum combined with a lot of sun and a lot of hiking in an exotic locale, capped off with a relaxed moonlit swim/walk on the beach, can produce surprising libido stimulation.
Finding a Doctor
The likelihood of requiring medical attention is remote. To be best prepared in case of an accident, contact the International Association for Medical Assistance to Travelers.
They have the names and locations of well-trained English-speaking physicians all over the world. Remember to check your insurance card to see if your policy covers overseas travel; otherwise, consider temporary medical/accident insurance. Carry your insurance card.