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Destination Travel health

11 December 2019

Travel to hot climates

Many of the most popular travel destinations are tropical or desert areas.

Travelers who sit on the beach or by the pool and do only short walking tours incur minimal risk of heat illness.

Those participating in strenuous hiking, biking, or work in the heat are at risk, especially travelers coming from cool or temperate climates who are not in good physical condition and not acclimatized to the heat.

People at highest risk for heat-related Illness.

The elderly, young children, and people with chronic illnesses may start showing signs of heat-related illness before healthy adults.

However, even young and healthy people can get sick from spending too much time in the heat.

Heat exhaustion

Heat exhaustion is a mild form of heat-related illness that can happen after exposure to hot temperatures and low fluid intake.


People at highest risk for heat exhaustion are the elderly, those with high blood pressure, and those working or exercising in the heat.


Symptoms of heat exhaustion include:

  • excessive thirst
  • profuse sweating
  • headache
  • dizziness or confusion
  • nausea


If you or anyone are traveling and develops these symptoms, get out of the sun immediately and try to cool off with a fan, air conditioning, or by getting in cool water.


Also, remember to drink cool, non-alcoholic beverages such as water or sports electrolyte drinks.

Heat stroke

Heat stroke is the most serious heat-related illness.

It happens when your body can no longer control its own temperature. The body’s temperature rises quickly, and you stop sweating, so your body cannot cool down.

Early heat stroke symptoms are similar to those of heat exhaustion, but they progress to more severe symptoms. Body temperature can rise to 106°F or higher (41 Celsius) within 10 to 15 minutes.

Even without a thermometer, people will feel hot to the touch.

Heat stroke can cause death or permanent disability if emergency treatment is not provided.

If you or a travel companion develops these symptoms:


  • Move to the shade or a cool place out of the sun
  • Cool the victim as quickly as possibly using water and cool air
  • Drink cool, nonalcoholic beverages, such as water.

Seek medical attention if symptoms persist

Tips to help you stay safe in the heat:


  • Drink plenty of non-alcoholic fluids
  • Wear sunscreen with SPF 15 or more and reapply throughout the day
  • Wear a hat and sunglasses
  • Wear loose, lightweight, light-colored clothing
  • Plan outdoor activities during cooler parts of the day
  • Rest often, and try to stay in the shade when outdoors
  • If you will be doing strenuous activities in the heat, try to get adjusted before you travel by exercising 1 hour per day in the heat

Source: Center for Disease Control and prevention ( CDC and prevention USA)

When traveling, regardless of your destination or physical condition, a consultation with a trained health professional is expected at least 6 weeks before your departure.

Christine Dumontet RN 

President Dumontet CSV and Founder of Travel Health Assist


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