Looking after Your Health While in Turkey
Nobody likes to fall ill but it is a guarantee that at some point during life, you will experience illnesses or accidents. Hopefully they will be minor and you can recuperate quickly without much help but occasionally, illnesses and accidents turn out to be more serious and it is always better to prevent rather than cure as well as plan in case something does happen.
Whether you plan to come to Turkey as a tourist or to live here permanently, certain procedures should be followed to ensure you stay healthy - and when you do need medical assistance, you can find it easily without breaking the bank.
Vaccinations to visit Turkey
Although official websites recommend vaccinations, many people visiting Turkey do not get them. If you're coming from a developed country, your usual childhood vaccinations will protect you against most illnesses in Turkey, and chances are, you won't be going to the underdeveloped parts of the country where nasty diseases are most likely contracted. Consult with your local GP for advice, depending on your current condition of health. (Note: The NHS advises a vaccination for Hepatitis A, which can occur anywhere in the world.)
Mosquitoes and Malaria
Unfortunately Turkey is rife with mosquitoes but they do not carry malaria or Zika and are just more of an annoyance then anything. Reactions to mosquito’s bites can vary from person to person. One person may just experience a slight itching, while others may develop puss-filled sores. Protect yourself by buying mosquito body spray and electric mosquito plugs for your hotel room.
As of the beginning of 2016, experts believe Turkey is not at risk from the Zika virus, due to geographical distance.
Most common causes of illness
If you're travelling to Turkey, you're most likely to be struck down by these common illnesses:
Sunburn and heatstroke: Mid-day temperatures especially during July and August can hit 40 degrees. Sunburn is uncomfortable and can turn into 2nd degree burns so always use sunscreen. At the same time, wear a hat and drink plenty of water. Dehydration is not something your body can easily endure.
Diarrhoea: The tap water in Turkey is clean but is also high in minerals which can affect the stomach lining and bowel movements. Likewise the change in diet is not always accepted by the body and this can result in diarrhoea. Like anywhere in the world, there is also the danger that you will eat somewhere that does not practice good hygiene. This illness is easily solved by visiting the chemist and asking for diarrhoea tablets. Also remember to drink plenty of water to flush it out of your system.
Chemists in Turkey
The services offered by chemists in Turkey are remarkable. They stock a wide variety of drugs and medicines, some of which are used in the western world and some of which are generic versions.
Recognised by the name Eczane, they are open every day of the week apart from Sundays. If you do have a medical emergency on a Sunday, look on the door of the nearest chemist and they will display which one in your town is open for emergencies.
Healthcare for Tourists
There is no free healthcare for tourists to Turkey so purchase travel insurance before you leave your home country. In most towns, public and private doctors will treat you without an appointment and in the holiday resorts; private doctors usually speak English.
Healthcare for Expats
To live in Turkey as an Expat, you need to apply for a residence visa. At the time of applying, your ability to take charge of your own medical needs is assessed. Under 65’s can opt for private medical insurance or join the state SGK program. If you are over 65, you can source private medical insurance, or fund yourself in the event that something goes wrong. Please note, that if you have a heart attack or serious illness, this can incur costs running into thousands of pounds.
In the last 10 years, Turkey has emerged as an international power house of the health tourism industry. Thanks to the geographical landscapes, spa centres as seen in the thermal springs of Izmir attract thousands of domestic and foreign visitors who want to use them to cure ailments such as arthritis.
Dental tourism attracts admiration from expats in the country who appreciate receiving top-quality dental treatment by qualified doctors at nearly half the price that is charged in the UK. Private dental clinics with English speaking dentists are found in all coastal resorts of the Aegean and Mediterranean coasts.
Another niche making big bucks is plastic surgery of which the coastal resort of Bodrum and city centre of Izmir excels at. Once again private clinics offer professional treatment and excellent after-care at cheap prices. Examples of procedures include neck and brow lifts as well as liposuction and breast enlargements.
Holidaymakers and expats living in Turkey have a number of options to ensure they are covered. Always remember though, the responsibility for your health lies with you and no-one else. Gone are the days of shabby healthcare in Turkey, so visitors and expats can always have peace of mind when looking after their health.