Common Diseases during Hajj
When performing the Hajj and Umrah rites, pilgrims are vulnerable to the diseases commonly associated with the Hajj season, including:
- Respiratory diseases.
- Gastrointestinal (digestive) diseases.
- Food poisoning.
- Dermatology (skin diseases)
- Dry eye.
- Sun strokes and heat exhaustion
Among the common diseases during Hajj are: Coryza (cold), seasonal influenza and bronchitis. They are transmitted through the droplets of coughing, sneezing or speaking.
Prevention and Reduction of Spread:
- Putting on face-masks, especially in crowded and congested places, and changing them every now and then, in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions.
- Using handkerchiefs to cover the nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing, and disposing them in the trash. In case there aren't handkerchiefs at hand, use, instead, the upper arms rather than the hands.
- Don't touch your eyes, nose or hands with the hands until after washing them well.
- Greeting others by shaking hands only.
- Don't drink ice water.
- Keep away from the air conditioner when sweated.
- On the incidence of any of these diseases, follow these tips:
- Take enough sleep, and drink much liquids containing Vitamin C, such as lemonade and orange juice.
- Take antipyretics and painkillers.
- See a doctor on the onset of acute symptoms.
Tuberculosis and Hajj:
Tuberculosis is one of the diseases that could be easily transmitted during Hajj, because of the overcrowding, and because some pilgrims hail from places stricken by this disease. It is transmitted through the droplets of coughing, sneezing or speaking. Therefore, the Saudi Ministry of Health calls upon tuberculosis patients to put their Hajj off for later years, except in these cases:
- The result of spitting is negative, which indicates the diseases is unlikely to be transmitted.
- Tuberculosis is unable to resist antibiotics.
- The patient is a strict adherent to the medicine schedule.
In case you're suffering from continuing cough for more than two weeks, you have to undergo the necessary tests before traveling for Hajj, to be sure you don't have tuberculosis.
Prevention and Reduction of Spread of Tuberculosis during Hajj:
- Put on a face-mask, especially in crowded and congested places.
- Keep, as much as possible, away from overcrowded places.
- Use handkerchiefs to cover the nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing, and disposing them in the trash.
- Wash your hands well every now and then.
- Keep your residence always well ventilated.
- In case there is a fellow Hajj coughing all the time, tell the doctor of your Hajj Mission.
- In case you have tuberculosis, tell the doctor of you Hajj Mission to follow you up during Hajj.
- When getting back home, after Hajj, it is advisable to see your doctor to undergo the necessary tests, to ensure that you haven't been infected with tuberculosis during Hajj.
- Using face-masks, especially in overcrowded places, and changing them every now and then (in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions) helps protect you from the infectious diseases transmitted through coughing or sneezing.
There is a set of diseases affecting the digestive system commonly associated with Hajj, such as diarrhea, constipation, nausea and vomiting. In order to avoid complications, you'd better adhere to the following tips and instructions:
- Keep away from fatty foods.
- Verify of the cleanliness of food, and cook it well, and don't buy foods from street vendors (See the Prevention of Food Poisoning).
- Drink much liquid to avoid dehydration.
- Head for the nearest health center if diarrhea persists.
- Eat much fresh fruit and vegetables.
- Drink much liquid.
Nausea and Vomiting:
- Don't eat and drink too much, especially fatty foods, until nausea and vomiting stop.
- Drink frequently to avoid dehydration.
- See a doctor in case vomiting is severe or persisting.
Food Poisoning during Hajj:
Many pilgrims are prone to food poisoning, especially the kind of poisoning caused by salmonella, which leads to acute inflammation in the intestine and colon, and entails such symptoms as stomach ache, headache, high temperature, diarrhea and vomiting.
Infection can be transmitted through:
- Negligence of cleaning vegetables before having them.
- Negligence of washing hands before preparing (or having) food.
- Negligence of cooking meat well.
- Drinking unpasteurized milk.
- Eating some foods uncooked (such as eggs), or some foods which contain uncooked eggs as an ingredient (such as mayonnaise), when kept in improper temperature.
- Eating “shawarma” without taking the necessary health precautions. It has been proven as the cause of many injuries.
- Wash your hands well before and after eating.
- Wash fruits and vegetables well before having them.
- Avoid keeping cooked food in buses when moving from one Hajj site to another. It is regarded as one of the major causes of food poisoning during Hajj.
- Keep in mind that keeping uncooked food in the room temperature for more than two hours leads to the growing of bacteria causing food poisoning.
- Cooked food should be eaten directly, or kept in the fridge when need be.
- Using pure water for drinking and cooking, and canned mineral water is preferred. In case you're unsure whether or not the water is pure enough, it should be boiled before use.
- Don't drink water from taps, or unclean ice cubes.
- Make sure that the milk you're having is pasteurized. Canned juices are preferred also.
- Verify of the expiry date of products, and be sure that the contents don't leak.
- Keep damageable foods (such as milk products and tuna) in the fridge, before and after opening cans.
- It is advisable to buy automatically packaged foods, and keep away from uncovered foods, or those prepared long time ago.
- Make sure that food is well cooked, to kill bacteria.
- Don't by foods from street vendors.
- You'd better eat fruits with thick crust, such as bananas and oranges, to be certain that they are clean and uncontaminated.
- Use clean utensils and plates. Paper plates and cups are preferred.
- Remember that when food has a different color or smell, this indicates that the food is spoilt and poisoned.
- Remember that keeping uncooked food in the room temperature for more than two hours leads to the growing of bacteria causing food poisoning.
Among the most common diseases during the Hajj is exfoliation (between thighs).
- Maintaining the personal hygiene and regular bathing.
- Using powder and other moisturizing cream when needed.
- Walking in strides to avoid exfoliation as much as possible.
- Keeping in-between thigh area clean and dry.
Xerophthalmia (Eye Dryness):
It is caused by the dust, dryness of the weather and direct exposure to the sun.
- Using sunglasses.
- Being interested in bringing an additional pair of sunglasses in the event that you damaged or lost the other one; it is recommended that its rim be plastic.
- Not using contacting lens only after referring to your oculist.
- Using moisturizing eye drops after referring to your oculist.
Hajj General Tips:
- Not to kindle fires inside the tents and to use the places designated for cooking.
- Not to sleep on the pavements and roadsides for the pilgrims' safety.
- Not to get on top of the buses and vehicles.
- Not to jostle and shove during rush times, as this expose all especially the elderly and women for danger.
- To adhere to the directives issued by the Ministry of Health and other governmental bodies.
- To head to the nearest health facility when needed.
- To use toilet to defecate and urinate in order for the infectious epidemics not to spread.
- Not to slaughter the sacrifice in places not prepare for that such as the roads and by the tents. Hence, this exposes all for the diseases and odor and slaughtering should be in the designated places.