How to return from successful Haj
Nearly a million pilgrims have already gathered in Mecca to perform Haj, and many more are expected to arrive. Annually, more than 2.8 million Muslims from across the globe gather in the holy land.
Authorities from several industries have distributed tips to make for a healthy and safe Haj this year.
Here are 10 of the most essential tips.
A basic travel health kit is important to have no matter where you travel. And since Haj involves mass gatherings of people, it is important to carry a small bag with all the essentials for common colds, stomach flu or even small cuts or bruises that one may face during the trip, said Ashraf Allam, Regional Vice-President, Mundipharma Middle East and Africa region.
From those travelling from Dubai airports: do not miss out on the travel kits provided free by Dubai Municipality.
It is very important to consume fresh food at all times. In addition, consume small meals throughout the day to maintain blood sugar levels, to increase your metabolism rate, thus giving you better stamina during your journey. Foods such as yoghurt, milk, and fruit juices provide vital nutrients which keeps your diet well-balanced, explained Allam.
While increasing physical activity in the hot weather, drinking plenty of fluids is paramount. Drinking 8-10 glasses of water per day is recommended. Carry bottled water at all times and avoid carbonated drinks during the entire journey, he added.
Protect yourself from the sun
According to him, pilgrims are at risk of heat exhaustion, or in worse cases heat stroke due to high temperatures. “Exposure to the sun for long, extended periods should be avoided.”
The doctor recommends the use of an umbrella, especially light-coloured ones.
“If one experiences high body temperature, nausea, fatigue, cramps, thirst, headaches or excessive sweating, it’s important to move away from a sunny place, cool the body with cold water and head to the nearest medical facility or contact your campaign doctor immediately,” said Fatima Al Marzouqi specialist registrar, primary healthcare sector at the DHA.
Proper hygiene can go a long way in preventing infectious diseases from spreading. Washing hands frequently, particularly before and after certain activities is recommended, in addition to using hand-sterilizing gel at all times, said Allam.
When coughing or sneezing, nose and mouth should be covered using tissues or handkerchiefs. These should be thrown away after use. Pilgrims should not touch their eyes, nose or mouth without washing hands.
Avoid contact with sick animals
“The source of MERS infection is said to have originated from animals. In the Middle East, MERS Corona Virus has been found in camels. As a general precaution, anyone visiting farms, markets, barns, or other places where camels and other animals are present should practice general hygiene measures, including regular hand washing before and after touching animals, and should avoid contact with sick animals,” said Allam.
“People who want to shave or cut their hair during the pilgrimage should follow certain precautions to avoid transmission of infectious diseases such as hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV. They should ensure that the barber is licensed and that he uses a single use razor and disposes the blade immediately. Never share shaving equipment with others and do not walk barefoot to ensure no used needle or razor can prick your leg,” said Al Marzouqi.
Haj is known as the world’s largest mass gathering, and infectious diseases can easily spread. Before departing on the holy pilgrimage, Haj travellers are recommended to vaccinate against several diseases.
The meningococcal vaccine is mandatory, the flu vaccine is recommended for everyone undertaking the pilgrimage and the pneumonia vaccine is highly recommended for immmocomprised patients, the elderly and those with chronic diseases, tipped the Dubai Health Authority (DHA).
Heart strokes are seen to be as one of the common ailments faced by the pilgrims during the journey, said Allam. “In order to avoid this, it is advisable that pilgrims visit their physician to check their heart condition and discuss what kind of activities they should refrain from.
Leqaa Mohammed Al Maftool, family medicine consultant at the DHA said that people with diabetes may also be at an increased risk for hypoglycemia (low blood sugar levels).
“Diabetics should monitor their blood sugar levels more frequently during Haj to avoid hypoglycemia. They should always carry some type of sugar source to treat hypoglycemic episodes. They also need to ensure they take their medications on time to avoid hyperglycemia (high blood sugar).
Elderly should check their health condition before taking off.
Last but not least, Haj is a physically demanding activity. Apart from heat exposure, there is a lot of walking involved, especially during the ritual where pilgrims walk seven times times between the hills Safa and Marwa. The distance between Safa and Marwah is approximately 300 m, so that seven trips amount to roughly 4.2 km.
“Start watching what you eat and get involved in any other kind of permissible activity you enjoy to keep yourself physically fit before the Haj season,” said Allam.
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