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5 Of The Worst Places In The World To Get Sick

5 Of The Worst Places In The World To Get Sick

Traveling abroad can be an incredible and enlightening experience. But if you intend to stay abroad in a foreign country for a few days or weeks, then you have to remember that not every country’s health care system is up to the standards of the West.

Countries like Iraq, Syria, and North Korea have dismal healthcare systems thanks to war and poverty, but few tourists make plan to visit those countries. But tourists should in fact be leery of many popular tourist destinations and their health risks.

Here are five places where tourists should take particular care of their health, both in preventing illnesses and in ensuring proper treatment when ill.

1. Mexico

Traveler’s diarrhea is nicknamed “Montezuma’s revenge” for a reason. Any travel guide will tell you that if you carelessly eat contaminated food or drink the tap water in Mexico or other developing nations, you will find yourself laid up for about three to five days and need to go to the bathroom frequently. This disease results from bits of human feces or garbage which can contaminate your food or water. About 30 to 50 percent of travelers to tropical destinations like Mexico will get this disease, so it is critical to be prepared.

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Boiling tap water or drinking bottled water will prevent one of the main causes of this disease, but that is not enough. You cannot eat foods which have been washed with tap water. This means eating no unpeeled raw fruit or vegetables, such as apples and lettuce. Furthermore, water used for brushing and shaving should also be purified, and try to avoid swallowing any shower water.

2. China

China is an interesting case. Health care in cities like Beijing and Nanjing is adequate, if not on par with the West. But if you travel into the interior, things start to get dicey. Hospitals are not as sterile, and doctors and nurses will not hesitate to reuse needles. The latter should be particularly concerning given that HIV has made inroads into the Chinese population.

One thing which visitors to any hospital should do is make it clear that they will not accept any blatantly unsanitary practices like reused needles, and perhaps carry their own supplies just in case. Doctors and nurses will undoubtedly grouse afterwards about the arrogant, whiny foreigner. But if the choice is between hurting someone else’s feelings or risking a deadly disease, it should be obvious what is the proper choice.

3. India

India has many of the problems which afflict Mexico and China. Its health care facilities outside the major cities are problematic and it is advised to purify any food and water before consumption.

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But unlike those countries, India is noticeable for having a problem with malaria. Even though this disease has been all but eradicated in the Western world, about 40,000 Indians die from the disease every year.  Furthermore, malaria is present throughout all of the non-mountainous regions of India, though it is worse in East India around the area of Kolkata.

Travelers planning to go to India should see about getting preventative medicine for malaria, in addition to vaccinations for typhoid fever, Hepatitis A and B, and maybe even yellow fever if you are passing through a country with a risk of that disease. This preparation should take place four to six weeks before departing.

4. Morocco

There is more to being healthy than just eating the right foods and avoiding diseases. In much of the Middle East, you will have to take care to avoid heatstroke, especially if you plan to vacation there in the summer. In Morocco, this is even more of a concern with the inconsistent level of health care you are likely to receive.

Many expats have reported that medical facilities, outside the main cities, are basic. It is advisable for anyone visiting the country to get private insurance. There is also other salient advice to follow when visiting this North African country.

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As a tourist who may not be used to such heat, you should probably do the same thing. Drink plenty of (purified) water and wait until it cools down before you explore the beautiful beaches or the rich culture there.

If you do end up needing medical care, make sure you read the fine print of any hospital forms you will be signing. It is not unheard of for healthcare professionals to charge significantly more to tourists and hospital negligence continues to be a problem. Taking out private insurance is a must but also make sure that your cover includes emergency evacuation and repatriation.

5. Aboard a cruise ship

A cruise ship may not pose the same health risks as a village in the Chinese interior, but the luxury which you can find aboard a cruise can pose opposite health problems. Eating too much good food too quickly combined with the roiling of a ship can lead to nausea, seasickness, and a cruise where you end up spending way too much time in the bathroom.

Moderation is key to all health. Eat in moderation, get exercise outside by walking on deck when you can, and do not get completely drunk. All those things will ensure that you actually enjoy yourself and do not end up with a vicious headache or worse.

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Traveling abroad without preparing is a foolhardy enterprise, and this applies above all to your health. But this does not mean that you should stay home in fear of a few days’ diarrhea. Some risk-taking is acceptable, and as long as you take adequate health and safety measures, you will gain the experience of a lifetime.

Featured photo credit: Nick Kenrick via flickr.com

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Last Updated on June 20, 2019

Science Says Guitar Players’ Brains Are Different From Others’

Science Says Guitar Players’ Brains Are Different From Others’

There’s nothing quite like picking up a guitar and strumming out some chords. Listening to someone playing the guitar can be mesmerising, it can evoke emotion and a good guitar riff can bring out the best of a song. Many guitar players find a soothing, meditative quality to playing, along with the essence of creating music or busting out an acoustic version of their favourite song. But how does playing the guitar affect the brain?

More and more scientific studies have been looking into how people who play the guitar have different brain functions compared to those who don’t. What they found was quite astonishing and backed up what many guitarists may instinctively know deep down.

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Guitar Players’ Brains Can Synchronise

You didn’t read that wrong! Yes, a 2012 study[1] was conducted in Berlin that looked at the brains of guitar players. The researchers took 12 pairs of players and got them to play the same piece of music while having their brains scanned.

During the experiment, they found something extraordinary happening to each pair of participants – their brains were synchronising with each other. So what does this mean? Well, the neural networks found in the areas of the brain associated with social cognition and music production were most activated when the participants were playing their instruments. In other words, their ability to connect with each other while playing music was exceptionally strong.

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Guitar Players Have a Higher Intuition

Intuition is described as “the ability to understand something instinctively, without the need for conscious reasoning” and this is exactly what’s happening when two people are playing the guitar together.

The ability to synchronise their brains with each other, stems from this developed intuitive talent indicating that guitar players have a definite spiritual dexterity to them. Not only do their brains synchronise with another player, but they can also even anticipate what is to come before and after a set of chords without consciously knowing. This explains witnessing a certain ‘chemistry’ between players in a band and why many bands include brothers who may have an even stronger connection.

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This phenomenon is actually thought to be down to the way guitarists learn how to play – while many musicians learn through reading sheet music, guitar players learn more from listening to others play and feeling their way through the chords. This also shows guitarists have exceptional improvisational skills[2] and quick thinking.

Guitar Players Use More of Their Creative, Unconscious Brain

The same study carried out a different experiment, this time while solo guitarists were shredding. They found that experienced guitar players were found to deactivate the conscious part of their brain extremely easily meaning they were able to activate the unconscious, creative and less practical way of thinking more efficiently.

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This particular area of the brain – the right temporoparietal junction – typically deactivates with ‘long term goal orientation’ in order to stop distractions to get goals accomplished. This was in contrast to the non-guitarists who were unable to shut off the conscious part of their brain which meant they were consciously thinking more about what they were playing.

This isn’t to say that this unconscious way of playing can’t be learnt. Since the brain’s plasticity allows new connections to be made depending on repeated practice, the guitar player’s brain can be developed over time but it’s something about playing the guitar in particular that allows this magic to happen.

Conclusion

While we all know musicians have very quick and creative brains, it seems guitar players have that extra special something. Call it heightened intuition or even a spiritual element – either way, it’s proven that guitarists are an exceptional breed unto themselves!

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Featured photo credit: Lechon Kirb via unsplash.com

Reference

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