getting sick in paradise city ...
It must be stressed that this section has not been compiled by doctors. It is meant as a guide only to some of the more common health problems you may encounter in Hua Hin.
Should you be unfortunate to be stricken by one, you must seek proper, qualified medical advice. We have indicated some remedies for the less serious afflictions, but have purposely not attempted to advise on more serious conditions. Nevertheless, this page will hopefully make you aware of what can happen to you health-wise in Hua Hin.
Water and food-borne diseases
The simple rules are don't drink the tap water and be careful of ice. Although tap water is cleaner in Hua Hin than in other areas of Thailand, it's not worth the risk to drink it as bottled water is so cheap. Likewise, ice can be contaminated, but you'll not have trouble with it in restaurants or bars and when you buy it for home make sure it is correctly packaged. Again, it is cheap. Food is almost always clean and fresh, so you're not likely to pick up any real nasties from eating out or at home. The most usual complaint will be an upset stomach. There are however some diseases that can get serious and are most likely contracted through dirty water, food or sanitation.
Of these, the most common will be diarrhoea. Attacks will normally be no more than a nuisance and pass within a day or so. The main thing is to remain hydrated, so drink plenty of bottled water and soft drinks (ideally still rather than carbonated) and avoid alcohol. Keep your diet bland until you have recovered. If the diarrhoea persists for more than 3 days, it is probably wise to seek medical advice.
More extreme forms of stomach complaints include dysentry, cholera and giardiasis. If you suspect you have contracted any of these, get to a doctor quickly. Plenty of medicines are available to cure the symptoms, so get them treated early and you'll generally not suffer any lasting complications.
Another quite common ailment to include in this category is hepatitis, partucularly the A strain which is extremely infectious for the first few weeks. Immunisation against certain strains of hepatitis are now readily available and they provide good protection. Do allow enough time for them to become effective though. If you do contact hepatitis A, you will feel lethargic, generally unwell and not have much of an appetite. It will develop into jaundice, so your skin and whites of the eyes will turn yellow. Urine will be dark in colour and stools will be light in colour. Normally, rest is the cure. Alcohol will definitely be off the menu for up to a year and a low fat diet is advised. You and your liver will eventually recover naturally, but it does take time.
Another serious condition is typhoid. This fever is spread through the gut and can be fatal if not diagnosed and treated in time. Fever will be high and pulse rates drop (as opposed to normal fevers when the pulse rate increases). After a couple of weeks, pink spots may develop on the body and delirium, trembling, vomiting, weight loss and dehydration will set in. It is vital that medical help is sought before further complications such as pneumonia set in. With correct medical care, your body will recover after about 3 weeks.
Diseases spread by humans and animals
Tetanus is a serious condition that can be fatal. Always make sure your immunisation is up-to-date. It is treatable with difficulty and the first symptoms will be a high fever and discomfort when swallowing together with stiffening of the jaw and neck. Convulsions of the whole body will eventually set in. Be sure to clean all wounds, even scratches, and disinfect the area. Tetanus is spread by a germ that lives in human or animal faeces.
Rabies is a disease spread by the bite or scratch of an infected animal. If not treated quickly, it is 100% fatal. This serious condition is present in Hua Hin and surrounding areas, so you must be really careful around street dogs, monkeys and other wild animals. If you feel that you may be living in a high risk area, a vaccination is available now.
These diseases are spread through sexual contact with an infected person. The most common forms in Hua Hin are gonorrhoea and syphilis. Both are treatable with antibiotics, but it is important to get medical help as soon as possible to avoid serious health problems later on. There is currently no cure for herpes or HIV/AIDS.
Whist total abstinence from sexual contact is the only certain way to avoid STDs, the use of condoms greatly reduces the chances of contracting them. If you are sexually active over here, protect yourself and others.
Despite this modern disease carrying the social stigma that it does and the seeming reluctance of authorities to publicise the extent of it, it is present in Hua Hin and all over Thailand. Most ex-pats will be exposed to the infection through sexual activity, rather than intavenous drug abuse, but the threat is real, so protection with condoms is essential if you are sexually promiscuous. We're sure that all readers will appreciate the seriousness of this infection.
We are lucky in Hua Hin in as much as malaria and dengue fever are not common and the town is regarded as very low risk. There have been instances of these diseases being caught locally, however, and the best advice is to cover up and use mosquito repellant when the insects are most active at dusk through to dawn. Dengue fever is spread by a daytime mosquito. If you are going to visit a high risk area around Hua Hin for any length of time (say to the Burmese border) you may want to consider taking anti-malarial tablets before you go. There are many strains of malaria, so it's important to consult local medical advice to ensure you take the right precautions and do so in time for them to be effective before venturing into a high risk area.
Climate and weather complications
These are most likely to be experienced when you first come over to live in Hua Hin as your body will eventually adapt to the heat and humidity. However, if you have been here for years and are simply sunbathing, playing a round of golf or enjoying some other sporting activity, care should always be taken.
It's easy to get sunburnt, especially from March-September when the sun is at it's strongest. We've all probably suffered from it at some time and needless to say it can be painful and easily avoided if sun creams and blocks are used.
Prickly heat can afflict those who are newly arrived and is caused by the build up of perspiration below the skin. An itchy rash will develop until your pores have opened up enough to cope with the extra sweating. Powders are readily available all over Hua Hin to take care of this and using a mild talcum powder, bathing often and air-conditioning will help you until you acclimatise.
Be careful not to suffer from heat exhaustion in Hua Hin. This can be brought about through dehydration or lack of body salt. You will be left feeling lethargic and maybe suffering from muscle cramps, nausea and giddiness. Salt tablets and and plenty of water are the answers and as opposed to other conditions brought about by the inability to sweat, heat exhaustion is more likely to affect those who have been here for some time, rather than newcomers.
Heat stroke is different to heat exhaustion, can be extremely serious and potentially fatal. You are most at risk through long exposure to high temperatures. You will not be sweating much, your skin may turn reddish and bad headaches and lack of coordination can develop. Eventually, derilium and convulsions will occur and hospitalisation is essential. Until there, keep the victim out of the sun, wrap them in a cold, wet towel and fan them constantly to lower body temperature.
Fungal infections of the feet, scalp and groin area are common. Wear loose-fitting clothing, shower often and get an anti-fungal powder that is readily available in Hua Hin. NOTE: ringworm is actually a fungal infection, not a worm and the same remedies can be used as above.
Broad discussions regarding health issues can be followed on our Health forum.