Before you travel to a foreign country you must take precautions and health travel in Turkey is no exception. Before checking with your doctor and making your own decision about immunizations, check your country’s travel health guidelines. We would always, without exception, advise you to take out travel insurance.
What steps can you take to look after your own wellbeing when travelling to Turkey?
Ease into the holiday
Please do not overdo it to remain safe when you fly to Turkey. Eat and drink sparingly, and get plenty of rest. If you don’t feel good, relax in your hotel room or property in Turkey if you own one, instead of pressing on. (You will have to rest for a longer period, and you’ll miss even more travel time if you push on and get sicker.)
Sun & heat
Use sunblock lotion periodically in the warm months and wear a hat to prevent sunburn. To prevent dehydration, drink liquids regularly (at least every hour) in hot, dry weather, even if you don’t feel thirsty. Surprisingly, mild dehydration, which is often mistaken for food ailments, can lead to stomach upsets, dizziness, and diarrhea. The remedy is simple: remember every hour to drink a glass of water or a soft drink. In the summer months it gets exceptionally hot in Turkey.
Speak with your doctor about Travellers Diarrhea. Changes in food can disrupt digestion, so go easy on spicy food. (Most Turkish food is not spicy.) Be careful not to overeat. You should actually under eat, especially early on in your trip. When your digestive system becomes familiar with your new location you should try new foods, and you’re in for a treat!
Drink bottled water, available everywhere, and it’s very cheap, at first limit tea and coffee consumption, which can trigger dehydration and sleeplessness. It can also aggravate stomach problems. If you drink alcohol, do so sparingly. Alcohol increases the risk of dehydration and upset stomachs, so please be careful.
Pharmacies and chemists
You cannot miss it; look for the large E sign for an Eczane (chemist in Turkish). Every Turkish city, town, and most villages will have pharmacies or chemists, where you can buy medicine, medical aids, and equipment, such as plasters, paracetamol, etc.
Although a doctor’s prescription is best, it is often not needed unless you need antibiotics. Pharmacists and chemists (generally have male and female in attendance) recommend medicines for simple illness if you tell them your symptoms. Prices for medications are government-controlled and usually low in price.
What to do when the chemist is closed
On Sundays and Turkish bank holidays, one or more eczane in a city will open. Duty pharmacy and chemist will have signs in the windows, and gives the addresses of the chemist that is open. If uncertain, ask at any shop; the Turkish locals are very helpful.
Turkish cities have hospitals (hastane), and towns have clinics (klinik, sağlık ocağı), usually with staff who speak at least some English. Besides government hospitals (devlet hastanesi), many private and specialty hospitals are of high quality and offer excellent medical care.
Some of these clinics offer superb “medical tourism” where you go with your insurance, and you will be treated. Most go directly to the insurance company for payment, and you do not have to do anything.
Elective medical treatment
There are elective medical procedures that foreigners travel to Turkey for. Due to the fact they may be less pricey or available more readily in Turkey than in your own country.
Private hospitals in Turkey
Beware of high prices at private hospitals. As with any private hospital, it can be expensive; the state hospitals in Turkey offer excellent care and at affordable prices. If it’s an emergency, go to the closest hospital, and if able, it’s best to ask about prices for treatment before committing to it. They usually tell you how much it is upfront.
Your country’s consulate may be able to help with reliable references and recommendations for medical services in Turkey.