In such blessed days pilgrims flock from all around the globe to perform the Hajj, but due to the overcrowding in the pilgrimage season, pilgrims become susceptible to many diseases. So, we offer medical advices for pilgrims in order to be able to avoid and prevent exposure to different types of disease.

Vaccinations for pilgrims

Be aware to take all the necessary vaccinations against epidemic diseases if you are going for Hajj. Epidemic diseases are those which may be spread during the Hajj season. Crowdedness and getting in contact with the different nationalities increase the possibility of transmission of the disease from infected people to healthy ones. Those epidemics include cholera, viral hepatitis and meningitis…etc.

Vaccination should be taken seven to ten days before Hajj.

Pilgrimage and Sunstroke

It’s better to wear light-colored clothes during the pilgrimage, preferably to be white clothes to minimize the effect of sun rays on the body.

Ladies, in particular, should carry an umbrella, preferably a white one. This helps them to avoid exposure to the hot sun as much as possible and accordingly prevent sunstroke.

People who are more susceptible to Sunstroke are: the elderly people, heart patients, diabetic patients who are coming from cold areas, pregnant women and young children.

Main symptoms of Sunstroke include feeling dizzy, “dizziness”, extreme fatigue, pain in the abdomen, hallucination, loss of consciousness, dry and hot skin with a high body temperature as well as body dehydration.

In case of having sunstroke the following first aid instructions should be followed:

– Patient should be moved from the sun to a shady place.

– Patient clothes should be wetted with cold water. A fan should be directed to him/her, or use of hand fan.

– Patient should be taken quickly to the nearest health center.

Pilgrimage and pregnant women

It’s not recommended for some pregnant women to do the pilgrimage. This is due to some maternal and fetal health dangers, such as:

·       Pregnant women in the first trimester: They carry higher risks of exposing to infectious diseases which may accordingly lead to fetal malformation.

·       Pregnant women have suffered from uterine bleeding: They have higher risk of bleeding recurrences.

·       Pregnant women are hypertensive or diabetic: They may suffer from fatigue & stress.

·       Pregnant women have kidney or heart diseases: They may be exposed to serious complications.

·       Pregnant women subject to infertility treatment, or have previously been subjected to abortion: They are more to abortion.

·       Pregnant women close to delivery time: They might have a premature birth.

Given all the above cases, health care professionals should be consulted before going to perform the pilgrimage.

Pilgrimage and healthy food

– Do not eat fatty, heavy meals

– Drink plenty of fluid “3-liter or at least equivalent to 3 bottles of water per a day.”

– Do not eat food exposed to air or flies.

– Wash your hands with soap and water before and after eating and after using the bathroom.

– Wash fruits and vegetables before eating.

– Store food, especially meat products, in the refrigerator. Avoid eating it if not stored in the refrigerator for more than 24 hours.

– For babies, breast feeding is preferable, but in case of bottle feeding, it is very essential to sterilize all tools used.  In general it’s very important to take care of your children’s diet.

Pilgrimage and diabetes

Pilgrims who suffer from diabetes have to follow specific medical instructions to avoid complications:

1. Visit your physician to get the recommended instructions and treatments during the period of the Hajj. Don’t forget to take your full medical history and a full report of your case, just in case.

2. Visit the Department of Nutrition to review your diet recommendations and to take the necessary instructions, especially which fits best with the circumstances of the pilgrimage.

3. Your travel bag should contain the following:

• A card stating that you have diabetes. This will be needed in case of an emergency.

• Your medical history and the medical report prepared by your physician.

• A sufficient amount of your medication (pills, insulin, needles or disinfectants…etc.)

• Your blood sugar measuring device. Make sure to check your blood sugar more often during the period of pilgrimage.

• Your special kit for checking blood sugar and ketones in the urine.

• Some candy or sugar bars, which you will need in case you have low blood sugar.

• A sufficient quantity of comfortable and light clothes, especially cotton socks and comfortable shoes (Shoes should be ones that have been used before and proven comfortable).

• Your sunglasses in case you need to walk in the sun.

Pilgrim and heart disease and hypertension

• Stay away from stress

• Avoid walking in the sun for long periods of time

• Avoid high salt intake

• Take with you sufficient medication which you will need for the whole period of the pilgrimage

• Refrain from smoking and avoid it.

• Make sure to take the necessary medications before you start the circumambulation

• Take your medicine regularly

• Go to the nearest medical center immediately, when you get any of the following symptoms (nausea, chest pain, numbness in the left arm or neck, fainting, dizziness)

• See a doctor, if you have congestive heart failure and had swelling in the feet.

Pilgrimage and asthma

• Avoid crowded places

• Do not strain yourself as much as possible

• Avoid poorly ventilated places, dust, pungent odors and smoking.

• Use medical masks.

• Take with you sufficient medication which you will need for the whole period of the pilgrimage

• Use a bronchodilator spray- a rescue medication, when you get an asthma attack.

• Move to a well-ventilated and comfortable location

• Go immediately to the nearest medical center, if you are still not responding to the use of the bronchodilator spray.

Pilgrimage and colds and flu

Flu is an acute viral infection that affects the upper respiratory tract, particularly the nose and pharynx. Despite being highly contagious, prevention is possible during the Hajj by following these instructions:

• Avoid sudden shift from hot to cold weather

• Stay away from facing the direct cold air of the air conditioning machine

• Avoid couching sneezing in other people faces. Make sure you throw used tissues.

• Stay away from touching or facing infected people as much as you can.

• Use masks in crowded places.

Pilgrimage and gastrointestinal infections

Pilgrims during Hajj may be exposed to gastrointestinal infections. This is due to eating foods infected with various parasite, viruses or bacteria. The symptoms of gastroenteritis include nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, frequent diarrhea, and sometimes headache and fever.

To avoid gastrointestinal infections

• Wash your hands properly before and after food 

• Wash fruits and vegetables before eating

• Eat food “well-done.”  

• Check canned food expiry date.

• Drink water from clean containers. Make sure that the water you drink is suitable for drinking

• Do not eat dairy products without verifying the validity of sterilized and expiry dates.

Pilgrimage and scalded skin

• Scalded skin is characterized by exfoliation between the thighs. It occurs as a result of excessive sweating and constant friction in the skin folds. Sweating and friction result in inflammation and redness of the skin, especially in obese individuals, and especially in the area between the thigh, under the armpits and under the breasts in women. This can be prevented as follows:

• Avoid excessive sweating by not walking for a long time.

• Be prepared by putting a powder or an ointment in the liable areas, if you are going to walk for long periods in the hot weather.

• Be sure to wash these areas during the ablutions and dry it up very well.

• Be sure to change underwear or ihram clothes as much as possible.

Pilgrimage and cracked feet

Continuous walking during hajj with sandals together with the exposure to dust leads to dehydration which caused cracked feet.  This is due to the dehydration of the skin outer layer called “Stratum corneum layer”. Cracked feet can be prevented by following these tips:

• Wash your feet and dry them up properly.

• Reduces the exposure to dust by wearing socks (outside the Times of Ihram).

• Walking with the whole foot on the ground, do not tip toe.

• Use of moisturizing creams.

General medical advices for pilgrims

a)     Follow the general recommendations of hygiene.

b)     Eat clean and sterile foods, juices, and dairy products.

c)     Avoid direct exposure to heat and sunlight, use umbrellas and remember to stay in the shade. It’s preferred to stay in an air-conditioned area without direct exposure to the air stream.

d)     Moisten your body, head, face and limbs with cold water from time to time.

e)     Drink plenty of fluids, at least 3-4 liters per day, and avoid exposure to heavy sweating and intense heat.

f)      Consult a physician and medical centers in case of fatigue or any alarming symptom, to be able to take preventive measures in the early stage of the disease.

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