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Health Colombia

The following health information is a general text that applies to all our travellers in South America. Those who pay some attention to hygiene and skincare do not usually run into health problems.

Food and drink: Temperatures in Colombia can be extremely high and if you do not drink enough you run the risk if getting dehydrated. This effect is magnified at high altitude. Tap water is unsuitable for human consumption. Generally, mineral water is available. When ordering a drink, ask the staff not to add ice cubes, as these are usually made of tap water that may contain germs. In small eating-places, it is better not to eat fruit or salads that have been skinned beforehand. Preferably, take your meals in busy restaurants. They are busy for good reason and the food is fresh. Clean your hands thoroughly before eating and keep your fingernails short.

Sunshine and heat: Sunburn, particularly at high altitudes, is a frequent cause of health problems. Sunburn and heat strokes are easier caught than you may think. You should therefore avoid the sun during the hottest hours of the day, always wear a hat (or carry an umbrella) and good sunglasses when you are walking, and use the recommended factor of suntan lotion. These are best brought from home. At high temperatures, the body’s need for water increases very rapidly, as does its need for salt. Make sure you drink enough. Take it easy during the hottest hours of the day. Treat small scratches, wounds and insect bites before they become infected.

Diarrhoea: Next to sunburn, the most common health problem is diarrhoea. Travellers are often hit by it after they have been on holiday for only a few days. In most cases it is innocuous and caused by the change of diet, the heat or harmless bacteria, against which the body will soon develop its defences. The main risk is dehydration. It occurs when the body loses more fluid, salt and sugars than it receives. The result is a feeling of listlessness and weakness. It can be prevented by drinking a solution of water and ORS (Oral Rehydration Solution).