HEALTH IN COLOMBIA
Colombia offers professional doctors, hospitals and good medical care all over the country. Nevertheless, you better not visit free community hospitals as there’s a huge difference in quality with private clinics.
EMERGENCY NUMBER -> 123
Vaccinations you need
Deep vein thrombosis (DVT): During your long flight to/ from Colombia it is a good idea to walk a little now and then and to have plenty of drinks. This is to prevent blood clots in your veins.
Jet lag: To avoid a jet lag, drink plenty of non-alcoholic fluids and eat light meals. Try to readjust your schedule (food, sleep) as quickly as possible.
Though generally spoken Latin America is better for your stomach then Africa or Asia, you’ll probably get some stomach problems, especially when this is your first time. There will be new bacteria and probably you’ve got to get used to the heat and heights. You may well suffer from a combination of puking and bad diarrhea at the same time… This is called Montezuma’s revenge = travellers diarrhea! Don’t worry… You´ll feel ’shitty’ (excuse the pun) but you´ll get over it very quickly. Drink lots of water with ORS (oral rehydration salts). Check first if you can use water from the tab. Also recommendable are guava juice with lemon, a bunch of bananas, salty crackers and eventually take some inhibitors against diarrhea. If after some days the situation doesn’t change or if you got a fever… Go and see a doctor.
A normal doctor won’t charge you more than 60.000 COP. Going directly to a specialist can cost between 150.000 and 200.000 COP. A visit to the dentist will start with 40.000 COP. Medication is generally spoken inexpensive and can be found in drugstores or in supermarkets. They also sell loose tablets. Contraceptive tablets can be found at the drogueria (drugstore, you find them EVERYWHERE) or pharmacy; you don’t need a prescription.
TIP: Against hangover -> Bonfiest, Alka-Seltzer, water with lemon
Altitude Sickness: (Commonly called mountain disease or Soroche) With rapid rises to heights above 2500 meters (8202 feet), you´ll feel your body reacting. Acclimatization can take days. The best thing to do is: climb step by step and don’t directly ask too much from your body. Especially the first two days after an elevation one should be alert to the signs and symptoms of altitude sickness: headache, insomnia, nausea, lethargy and unusual fatigue. If you’re hiking and it occurs to you: tell your guide and stop climbing. Altitude Sickness will disappear when you descent; if not it can be life threatening! Some people consider Diamox (acetazolamide) useful in preventing altitude sickness. This medicine helps your body to adapt quickly to altitude. Diamox does have some side effects and its use should therefore be well considered and previously discussed with a doctor. The use can never replace proper acclimatisation in the first place. Keep yourself well hydrated at all times, even when you’re not thirsty! And also remember to sunscreen your ears, nose and lips and have your head covered!
Dengue, chikungunya and zika: are viral infections from the same family transmitted by the bite of a mosquito. Symptoms can be: high fever, headache, muscular pain, body rash, nausea, vomiting and fatigue. Especially with dengue it can be very important to be treated quickly if not, some forms may turn chronic. Zika is dangerous for pregnant women. See also Mosquitoes in Colombia.
Malaria: is also caused by mosquitoes and must be treated as fast as possible. The risk of getting malaria in Colombia is not too big (it might occur in the Amazon and the Chocó department) so a lot of travellers make the choice of not taking malaria pills – who can have severe side effects – as a precaution, but as quickly as they think they might have the disease (heavy fever). Check in advance how many pills you have to take in that case and consult a doctor as quickly as possible if you’re afraid you’re infected. Remember that Colombian doctors know these diseases well and will know what to do. Nevertheless, the best tip is a precaution against mosquito bites! Mosquitoes in Colombia.
Parasites: If you are very tired, not hungry and you feel weak, you may have parasites in your body. And for sure if you see movement in your stool! Consult a doctor. Hospitals with lab facilities can test.
Food poisoning: That’s one disease nobody has to explain that you have it ’cause it will leave your body from every hole it can find! Nevertheless, keep on drinking! We mean, of course, keep yourself well hydrated!
Sanagua is a medicinal fruit from Chía in the region of Cundinamarca. It cures a lot and activates the immune system. You can cut open the fruit and drink the juice. More information: [email protected]. Colombia Fácil found it in Buga in the marketplace (galeria).
Noni is called the queen of natural medicines. The fruit smells like rotten cheese and taste nasty but is very HEALTHY. So are the leaves. You can use them to make tea but also wrap them on a sore spot and let them do their work while sleeping. You’ll find the tree in a lot of places in Colombia. Type noni on the internet and you’ll find heaps more information.
Your stomach looks like a big balloon and hurts because you cannot go to the toilet? Eat some pitaya fruit or papaya and soon enough you will run to the loo!
Because of the daily outdoor flip-flop life, your hands and feet need a little extra care. Manicures cost from about 15.000 COP and pedicures from 12.000 COP. They can make lovely paintings on your polished nails with flowers and so on. Boys can go too and don’t need to be ashamed because in Colombia it is a normal thing.
When you urgently need a haircut (from about 8.000 COP at a local shop), it might be useful to know that the cut itself only takes 2 minutes…and for the form just a little more (30 minutes) … You’ll be ready in less than nothing!
PLASTIC SURGERY /DENTISTRY
Colombia is famous for its dentistry and plastic surgery. To have fake boobs, a great face without wrinkles, a flat stomach and protruding buttocks is a normal everyday thing here. Someone with brackets shows that he/she has money. Wearing a brace at a later age is definitely not an issue. To think about: Edith from Colombia Fácil got her first molar implant in Colombia. Instead of paying 2250 euro in Holland, she paid 700 and it is well done. She’s also happy with her eyes being lasered in Colombia…
GENERAL HEALTH CLINICS
Cr 68 A # 43-13 Edf Centro 43 CS. 305 (San Joaquín, Lauréles) Medellín
Tel. (4) 581 52 07 / 310 434 24 50
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Santa Marta – Hospital Universitario Fernando Troconis
Cra 14 # 23 – 42
Cartagena – Hospital Universitario del Caribe
Cll 29 # 50 – 50
Tel. 300 837 4037
Amazonas – Hospital San Rafael de Leticia
Avenida Vásquez Cobo – Cra 10 # 13 – 78 Leticia
Tel. 8 – 5927826