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Staying Healthy in the Desert

Ok so Sharm is kind of the Mecca for divers. If you have yet to dive here, it should seriously be on your list of places to go. What we have here that seems pretty unique is the combination of a bit of everything. You can go to the Galapagos to see thousands of Hammerheads (a definite must do) or big stuff in Mozambique, or you can go for major reef and wrecks in the far East, but what we have here is a bit of it all. We don't get as many guaranteed shark sightings as some places, but we do get them, and together with that we get the glorious corals and chrystal clear blue waters that you don't get so much in some of these places. We also have a couple of great wrecks, the Thistlegorm being top of the list for many a wreck ferret.

So, staying healthy once you are here? What should you look out for?

Firstly even in winter, do not forget that you are in a desert. It is very dry, and because the heat is also dry, you can be fooled into thinking that the temperature is not as extreme as you've been told. While you are here you will be slightly dehydrated most of the time, and that is if you are drinking plenty! Forget to drink properly for a day and you will suffer the next day, be warned. You will have all the symptoms of a full blown stomach bug, with sweats, headache, the runs and stomach cramps. All this as well as feeling totally rotten. So remember to drink plenty of water, but almost as important, eat properly. If you only drink, it will pass straight through you. If you eat decent meals, especially starchy foods with a little salt added, this will help you to hold on to the fluids you are putiing in your body. On top of this, should you start to feel a little off, try taking some rehydration salts to help replace lost fluids.

Obviously if the heat is this strong, it means there is a lot of sun! Even underwater (especially if snorkelling) you can get sunburnt, so remember that sunscreen. Or better still, wear a hat and avoid the midday sun. Wear a rash vest when snorkelling to avoid frying your shoulders too, the water may feel gloriously cool, but in the shallows the sun is magnified and you won't feel it taking its toll on your skin.

The other biggie in any hot country is a genuine stomach bug. Sadly you can be vulnerable to these in Sharm. Being hot, food tends to go bad quickly, so avoid hotel buffet meals where rice or meat has been kept warm for long periods of time. These days ice and salads are pretty safe to eat with most hotels knowing to use bottled water for these kind of things. But if you want to be really careful try and stick to piping hot dishes that have been prepared freshly for you. If you do fall ill, keep hydrated and take medication if you must, but try and avoid the kind that simply bungs you up (ie Immodium or similar products). They will make sure your body keeps the poisons in enabling them to multiply further. You are better off visiting a doctor or pharmacy who would recommend a mild intestinal antiseptic.

Since people have been creating gardens in what was once a desert, pesky things like mosquitoes are now present in Sharm. I would bring a good repellant, such as Jungle formula or one that contains deet, to really keep these pests at bay. There is no malaria currently present here, but there is nothing more aggrivating than a crop of bites up your legs when on holiday. It has been known for people to react to too many bites too, so maybe bring an antihistamine just in case.

As with any overseas trips, there are the odd risks, however it is well worth it. Just take a few precautions and if in doubt visit a local pharmacy, they do know their thing here, and will be happy to recommend something should you have the misfortune to become ill whilst here.

Enjoy your trip.

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