Men and Women Face Different Threats when Traveling

For reasons that are not entirely clear, men tend to get bitten, women tend to get sick.

By Leah Zerbe


Take the proper health precautions when you travelTake care of ticks
Ticks may carry all sorts of nasty diseases, including Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, babesiosis, bartonella, and ehrlichiosis. To help keep you safe, there are a number of effective tick repellents on the market, but many contain the same powerful chemicals found in mosquito repellents. So it’s a matter of weighing the risk of bites versus the risks associated with exposure to the bug spray. Consider nonchemical options as well. For example, last year researchers at the Yale School of Public Health found that taking a shower within two hours of spending time outside, along with performing a tick check within 36 hours of being outside, provided significant protection against Lyme disease.

Ditch the diarrhea.
This highly unpleasant malady usually happens when you consume water or food contaminated with E. coli, which is more common in developing countries and can be serious if your immune system is compromised. Over-the-counter medicines normally work, but if you develop bloody stools or severe cramping, you need to see a doctor, who may prescribe antibiotics. Preventing traveler's diarrhea can be difficult, but if you spot common food-safety perils like undercooked meat at an outdoor stall or buffet, pass on it. Cocktails made with ice from unfiltered water are also suspect; bottled beer or wine is a safer choice.

• Pretend it's flu season. Women tend to come down with colds more often while abroad, but it's important (and easy) for everyone to practice proper hand-washing techniques to help guard against viral infections.

• Carry cranberry. To combat urinary tract infections, take along cranberry juice or pills. Drink it regularly before your trip, too, as research has shown that it helps prevent E. coli from attaching to your bladder walls. Yogurt and celery are also known to boost urinary tract health. If you get a urinary tract infection while you’re away, don’t hesitate to visit a clinic for antibiotics.

• Seek motion control. Motion sickness isn’t life-threatening like malaria or yellow fever, but it can be horribly unpleasant, especially if it goes on for hours. To stop it before it starts, try sitting over the airplane's wing when you fly and focusing on the horizon, opt for the front seat of a car (in the driver's seat is best of all) when you drive, and hang out in the midship area when on a boat. For further protection, take along ginger supplements, or chew on a quarter-ounce piece of fresh ginger.