Chest Pain & Infections

Chest Pain & Infections Treatment London

This type of infectious illness are second only to diarrhoea as a cause of illness in travellers. Certain situations encountered when travelling place travellers at an increased risk of acquiring a respiratory infection.

Catching a cold at home is easy enough but travelling will increase your susceptibility and expose you to new germs to which you have no natural immunity.

Respiratory Infections

Coughs, colds and sore throats are very common in travellers but can be easily treated using over the counter remedies which are available in pharmacies and drug stores world-wide. Antibiotics can be purchased over the counter in many countries but should be avoided in this instance since they are totally ineffective against cold viruses.

  • Influenza
  • Diphtheria
  • Legionnaires
  • Tuberculosis
  • SARS
  • Bird Flu

The majority of respiratory tract infections are viral and are therefore not susceptible to antibiotic treatment. When prescribed, antibiotics are often for secondary infections.

Pulmonary tuberculosis is a contagious bacterial infection caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis (TB). The lungs are primarily involved causing persistent cough with fever and sweating, but the infection can spread to other organs. The disease is slow to establish itself and general malaise, weakness and weight loss are characteristic during this incubation which may be up to twelve weeks. The disease is characterised by the development of granulomas (granular tumours) in the infected tissues.

TB is much more common in some parts of the world than in the UK. The risk to travellers is limited since transmission of the disease usually requires prolonged close contact. Sometimes the disease can be overwhelming; producing meningitis and coma; this particularly dangerous form is usually found in children and those who have not previously been vaccinated or exposed to the disease. Recently, antibiotic-resistant strains of tuberculosis have appeared.

Tuberculosis can develop after inhaling droplets sprayed into the air from a cough or sneeze from an infected person and it can also spread through infected sputum and there is a form spread through milk from infected cows. The risk of contracting TB increases with the frequency of contact with people who have the disease, and with crowded or unsanitary living conditions and poor nutrition.

Pulmonary TB develops in the minority of people whose immune systems do not successfully contain the primary infection. The disease may occur within weeks after the primary infection, or it may lie dormant for years before causing disease. The extent of the disease can vary from minimal to massive involvement, but without effective therapy, the disease becomes progressive.

Infants, the elderly, and individuals who are immunocompromised, those undergoing transplant surgery who are taking anti rejection medications are at higher risk for progression of the disease or reactivation of dormant disease. Those who have not received BCG immunisation are advised to do so and if for travel purposes, at least six weeks before departure to ensure a protective level of immunity.

Treatment with anti microbial drugs is effective but is prolonged and requires medical supervision. It is also expensive and not always available abroad. Incomplete treatment of TB infections (such as failure to take medications for the prescribed length of time) can contribute to the emergence of drug-resistant strains of bacteria.

Prevention: Avoid overcrowded places in endemic areas, particularly where spitting is common. Never drink unpasteurised milk. If in doubt, boil it before drinking. There is a vaccination (BCG) which can give a valuable degree of protection, particularly in children. Travellers who plan to spend more than a month in an area with a high tuberculosis rate and who have not been previously immunised should consider immunisation with BCG.

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