People with health issues are often reluctant to move countries when faced with navigating a whole new health system. Allergies can be problematic either intensifying with the move or sometimes, if you’re lucky, alleviating, as is often the case with hay fever. If you have an allergy, here are some things to take into consideration as you plan to move abroad.
One of the most common allergies today is celiac disease also known as a gluten allergy. If you’re moving to a first world country like the UK, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to discover that most supermarkets cater for your allergy, enabling you to enjoy anything from Christmas cake to hot cross buns at Easter, all gluten-free. Other countries (like South Africa) don’t have a huge range of gluten-free products available at local supermarkets and you often have to find a specialist deli that caters for your allergy. There are also reports that countries like France have as little as 8-9% gluten content in their flour, making it far easier to tolerate, versus American and UK flours which have a 15-16% content of gluten.
A severe reaction to peanuts is becoming increasingly common. If you suffer from this type of allergy, you need to have a dose of antihistamine or other medication with you at all times when you travel abroad. Ensure you have stocked up with supplies before you leave, so you have time to orientate yourself abroad and find a GP or pharmacy to supply you with your medication. A good tip is to also wear a medic alert bracelet to warn people around you in case of a severe allergy attack.
If you are allergic to penicillin or any other form of common drug, it is advisable to wear a medic alert bracelet at all times when you travel. Ensure you have up-to-date medical records from your local GP, so you can seamlessly inform your new GP about your allergy and what drugs you can successfully use in the event of illness.
Top allergy travel tips
- Consider taking out health insurance. If you suffer from severe allergies, it is advisable to purchase travel medical insurance until you are sufficiently covered by the medical health system in your new country. Read through all the terms and conditions carefully to ensure that you are adequately covered for your allergy and what costs the health insurance is prepared to cover.
- Be prepared. If you suffer from hay fever, it’s advisable to check out your destination’s pollen levels before you move. Pollen.com is an online website which can give you an indication of what you can expect in the air. If you have food allergies, ensure you have a good supply of your favourite allergy-free foods to see you through the first few days – especially on the plane. However, it’s important to be aware that certain countries – for example, Australia – won’t let you bring any foreign foodstuff into the country.
- Learn the relevant local phrases. If you are moving to a country with a foreign language, it’s essential you learn a few keywords and phrases to communicate with restaurants and waiters when you are eating out.
- Consider carrying an allergy card. Either create your own allergy card in the relevant languages or apply for one at your new destination. Many allergy cards feature a message that can be used when ordering food at restaurants if you are unsure about verbalising the message.
- Communicate your allergies to your airline. Many airlines are happy to accommodate food allergies and either supply alternatives or are happy for you to bring your own supplies onto the flight.
- Stock up on your allergy medication. Check the date on your EpiPen and ensure you have a spare. It’s advisable to always travel with your allergy medication in your hand luggage, so you can access it quickly.
If you’re thinking of moving abroad, contact FinGlobal for more information about how to make the move and unlock your wealth in your new home.
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