Do you find yourself asking why the timing is so bad when you become ill on holiday, after months of working hard? You’re apparently not alone; it is thought that around one third of people who go on holiday become ill at some point while they are away.
It is common for people to work themselves into the ground to get things done before they go away, usually putting in more time and energy in to work than usual, and juggling this with preparation for the time away. In doing this extra work, stress hormones are raised more than usual, which rather than working towards relaxation time, can lead to increasing the possibility of needing recuperation time once the stress stops. Indeed, the stress hormones (including adrenaline) that are building up whilst the rush to finish work and the daily grind is going on, are thought to help ward off infection.
As you relax, these stress hormones reduce. Then, add into the mix different bacteria present in the country you are travelling to, over indulgence in food and alcohol, and the sunburn, can we be surprised that our bodies give in?
It may all start on the journey to start your holiday. You relax into your aeroplane seat, in an enclosed space, and in close proximity to others who are potentially carrying germs. It can also be argued that the low humidity or recycled air within the aircraft can heighten your susceptibility to catching an illness as the germs circulate around the cabin. The air pressure will also affect oxygen intake, decreasing energy, and dry out the skin, eyes and throat. This will be exacerbated the longer the duration of the flight.
On arrival at your destination, it is more often than not a very different story to the day to day routine at home. Your diet and lifestyle will likely be completely different to what your body is used to. The food you eat could be different, increased alcohol consumption is common and exercise is likely to have dropped. All this can have a big impact on your digestion and the immune system.
The effects of this can commonly be an increased susceptibility to tummy bugs. Add to this buffet meals in hotels, where the food can be sitting out for a period of time, with bacteria multiplying, and your risk of becoming ill is also multiplied.
So, how can the possibility of becoming ill on holiday be minimised? Read our article Tips to Avoid Sickness on Holiday to find out.