How to Stay Healthy in Vietnam

Health - Vietnam: Dec. 12, 2017

Avoid Secondhand Smoke

This might be tough in a country in which half of the men and 5 percent of the women smoke. It’s estimated that 47 million people are affected by secondhand smoke, and this carries many of the same health risks as lighting up yourself. Being regularly exposed increases your chances of stroke and ups your cardiovascular disease risks by a whopping 20 to 30 percent! Our advice: avoid bars without proper ventilation, and wear your traffic mask as you’re walking through the city.

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Wear a Good Traffic Mask

Speaking of clean air: not all traffic masks are created equal. If you think your surgical or cloth mask will protect you, think again. While they might protect against large dust particles, everything else will be able to sneak in. To protect yourself from the 0.3-2.5 micrometre particles, the most dangerous particles of all, invest in a high-quality, filtered mask with a suction seal. AQ Blue makes these well, as does Vogmask.

Avoid Driving

Yep, sorry. We know you love your motorbike, but the truth is the truth: traffic accidents kill more people in three years than pandemic diseases do in 100 years. A staggering 14,000 people die on the roads every year in Vietnam, making it the leading cause of death among people aged 15 to 29. Try to embrace public transport instead, or walk if your destination isn’t too far (but be careful crossing the street).

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Be Careful with Medication

The over the counter medication culture is strong in Vietnam, and there are downsides. Antibiotics are routinely used to fight common maladies like colds and flus. Although these are caused by viruses, against which antibiotics are actually ineffective, you’re increasing the chance for all sorts of bacteria to become stronger and medicine-resistant in the future. A World Health Organisation report listed Vietnam as one of the world’s top countries for antibiotic resistance, meaning that bacterial infections might become more powerful. So, for a common flu or cold, take care of it the old fashioned way.

Cool it with the Air Conditioner

There are two sides to this coin: on the one hand, heavy air conditioner use has been linked to nasal congestion, breathing problems, headaches, fatigue and irritated skin. On the other hand, it also filters out some of the harmful pollutants in the air, a particularly welcome trait in Ho Chi Minh City. So, try not to overdo it. A simple fan can work just as well.

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Avoid the Cheap Alcohol

The next time you’re in a convenience store and get lured into the seemingly amazing sales at the liquor section, think twice: that bottle of Jim Bean for VND70,000 is, most likely, low-grade grain alcohol. This year there have been a few particularly alarming cases of methanol poisoning, and some 382 people have been poisoned by unsafe alcohol in the past decade, 98 of whom have died. Think about the price before ordering your next tequila shot. Does it seem too good to be true? Then it probably is.

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