Health -- Diseases, Immunizations and Innoculations, Treatments

Although the list of ailments below is long, that does NOT mean expats who live in Thailand suffer from these commonly. Rarely does anyone I know. This is just an effort to comprehensively cover ailments more likely to occur in Thailand.

I regularly see articles in the news, some very good and balanced, but some others of which I consider to be link bait based on fear and which don't cover its topic in a balanced way, often very alarming, like they're hoping you'll share the article and they'll get more visitors and more advertising revenue. Many people are bad at math and analysis, calculating the probability of getting an infection. The risk of each illness should also be compared to a lot of other kinds of injury and diseases, especially for rowdy tourists in Thailand ... and people who eat a lot of junk food ... so you may want to put everything into proper perspective, in an overall health care plan.

The "Risk Perception" for each ailment can vary a lot from person to person.

For example, I have known people afraid to fly in an airplane after reading about an airplane crash, and deciding to instead drive a very long distance, which of course is far more dangerous than flying. I've also known people to forego experiences in life out of small risks based on a strong impression in their mind, such as from mass media, while routinely taking much higher risks which are not so dramatically presented online.

Here, I try to discuss these ailments in a balanced way.

Most ailments have statistics. Reading an alarming news article that there have been thousands of cases of some ailment may disturb many people, but things should be put into perspective. I prefer to calculate the likelihood of it affecting me or you, or a random person out of the 70,000,000 Thai population. Statistics are fairly good for some ailments, but poor for others, or inconsistent depending upon source.

Taking reasonable precautions can put you much less at risk of becoming a statistic.

As a simple example, besides biological pathogets, you may want to note that the World Health Organization estimates that approximately 23,000 people die per year from road accidents in Thailand. A disproportionate number seem to me to be motorcyclists. 70,000,000 people divided by 23,000 means a rate of about 1 in 3000 people per year, which is very high. If you drive here, especially on a motorcycle, then after 50 years that's roughly a 1 in 600 chance of dying, based only on gross statistics. Besides death, there's an even higher chance of injury, of course. This is no surprise to me, seeing so many crazy drivers on the road, especially motorcyclists but also many car drivers. However, if you're a good driver, stay aware for defensive driving, and take reasonable precautions, then I would think your chances are much less. By the way, I consider moving vehicle accidents to be one of the highest risks of death or injury in Thailand.

However, the greatest risk of all, by far, in my estimation, is just a poor diet and not taking good care of one's own health, which tops the list by far, whether you're in Thailand or in your own home country. The eventual serious risks from that are far, FAR higher than other serious risks in Thailand in general, statistically. Poor health maintenance is unlikely to be a sudden symptom, and far more likely to develop into something chronic, so it's not going to make the news for Thailand.

             Hospitals for foreigners
                          General food and water related
                          Sunburn, skin cancers
                          Heat rash, fungus, bacteria
                          Alcohol related
                          Illegal drugs
                          Hepatitus A
                          Hepatitus B
                          Hepatitus C to G
                          Other ailments and bites (non-STD)
                          Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs)
                                       Non-specific urethritus (NSU)
                                       Genital warts
                                       Molluscum ("the clam")
                                       Trichomoniasis ("trich")
                                       Hepatitus B
                                       Hepatitus A
                                       Getting drugged
             Other Issues and Tips
             Illegal Drugs
             Hospitals (not ready, recommendations coming)

This is the sign of a pharmacy, "kaiy-ya". While you should see a doctor for an ailment, you will also find that many pharmacies are operated by doctors. Also, you don't need a prescription in Thailand, but can buy anything they have. I've been to pharmacists in many provinces, and this is one field where Thailand really impresses me on average, as typical ones have been good, and many have been really outstanding. Indeed, exemplary human beings. (Their English stands out, too.) These excellent ones are actually doctors who moonlight or live in the shop/townhouse above their pharmacy. Doctor's schedule is important, unless retired or now self-employed. If not in front, ask staff for the doctor. But my experiences with pharmacists located in grocery stores and superstores -- both knowledge and recommended treatments -- has typically been at the bottom extreme, over and again.

An experienced doctor once said: "The two most common ailments in Bangkok are diarrhea and gonorrhea."

The above is a long list of diseases and ailments. The list should not alarm you. Most travellers and expat residents, including those who have no immunizations at all but take reasonable precautions, don't get any serious problems in Thailand. The most common exception is sexually transmitted diseases (STD's).

You aren't required to take any immunizations before travelling to Thailand, unless you come from areas with yellow fever, in which case you're required to show vaccination. (There's no risk of yellow fever in Thailand.) However, you should check for the latest requirements, especially if you are travelling from certain parts of Africa where there have been occasional outbreaks of tropical diseases with control attempts by the World Health Organization.

Older and weaker people should consider some vaccinations, such as against hepatitus A, which is not serious like hepatitus B but is also not so difficult to pick up. Please see the detail pages above on those two forms of hepatitus.

Above, the ThailandGuru covers the statistically most reported health ailments, their treatments and precautions. The ThailandGuru list above significantly exceeds the lists and coverage given by most guide books, so don't get alarmed by the lengths.

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor nor an expert, and what is written here is just what I've read or heard from others who are generally not doctors nor experts, either. If you choose to take any of this advice, it is at your own risk and no other entity's. If you think that you may have any of these ailments, then you should go to a qualified physician, and not go by information here. This is just a novice discussion.

 > Family Health and WellBeing

Additional, children pages of this current parent page:

Family Health and WellBeing :
  General Food and Water Related
  Sunburn, Skin Ailments
  Alcohol related
  Illegal Drugs
  Hepatitis A
  Hepatitis B
  Hepatitis C to G
  Mosquito Related, Dengue
  Other Ailments, Bites, Tips
  Sexually Transmitted Diseases
  HIV, AIDS in Thailand
  Tips and miscellaneous

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