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Health Insurance For Travelers
Coverage in Ecuador will depend on the type of insurance that you have. Therefore ask about pertinent details from your insurance carrier. It is a good idea to always carry a copy of the policy with you in case the original is lost. You should also keep copies of receipts when you use the insurance.

In general, if you need hospitalization, the traveler will have to pay the hospital and then later be reimbursed by the insurance company. In most hospitals and clinics, credit cards are accepted.

Medical Attention in Ecuador: Doctors, Hospitals & Pharmacies
In Ecuador there are many quality hospitals and clinics where the traveler can be treated if there is some emergency while in the country.

In the case that some type of medication is needed, the traveler can obtain this at any pharmacy. The largest chain of pharmacies in Quito and in the country is Fybeca. Throughout the city, small and large pharmacies can be found. But remember that if you generally take some specific medication in your home country, this type of medication may not exist in Ecuador so you should make sure to bring a large enough supply of the product to last you during your stay.
It is also recommendable to know generic names of certain medications.

Altitude or Mountain Sickness
Quito and the rest of the Ecuadorian Andes lie above 9000 feet. Therefore altitude sickness is a real possibility. To prevent this malady, characterized by pounding headache and nausea and, in the most severe cases, coughing blood and death risk, make sure you acclimatize slowly to the altitude. The first few days at altitude you should not exert yourself, drink plenty of fluids and avoid alcohol and tobacco. Acetazolamide is the drug of choice to prevent altitude sickness. The usual dosage is 125 or 250 mg two or three times daily starting 24 hours before arriving to the highlands and continuing for 48 hours after arrival. If you have a heart condition, please check with your doctor for further restrictions.

Necessary Vaccinations & Prophylaxis
For traveling to Ecuador, you should be vaccinated against some of the diseases found in Ecuador. This should be done under the supervision of your doctor. It is recommended that the traveler consult with a doctor about this at least 2 months prior to travel.

The most common prophylaxis one needs when traveling to certain regions of Ecuador is against malaria. Prophylaxis with Lariam, Malarone or doxycycline is recommended only for the Amazon basin region and the rural coastal lowlands. Malarial prophylaxis is not needed for the Galapagos Islands.

Vaccinations recommended for traveling to Ecuador are as follows:
Hepatitis A - Recommended for all travelers. Vaccine lasts about 10 years.
Hepatitis B - For travelers who may have close contact with local residents, especially if visiting Ecuador for more than 6 months.
Typhoid - For travelers who may eat or drink outside major restaurants and hotels.
Yellow fever - Recommended for travel in the Amazon basin region and the rural coastal lowlands.
Rabies - Though not common in Ecuador, a rabies vaccine is recommended for travelers who may have direct contact with stray animals and may not have access to medical care.
Tetanus-diphtheria - Revaccination is recommended every 10 years

Food , Water & Diarrhea
Travelers' diarrhea is the most common travel-related ailment. The key to prevention is water and food precautions. In Ecuador, you cannot drink water directly from the tap because it is not purified. To drink bacteria free and safe water you should boil it or buy bottles of purified water that you can find in any store in the country. In the same manner if you are going to drink juice, you should be sure that it is made with pure or boiled water, especially if water is added after the juice is already made.

All travelers should bring along an antibiotic and an antidiarrheal drug to be started promptly if significant diarrhea occurs, defined as three or more loose stools in an 8-hour period or five or more loose stools in a 24-hour period, especially if associated with nausea, vomiting, cramps, fever or blood in the stool. A quinolone antibiotic is usually prescribed: either ciprofloxacin 500 mg twice daily or levofloxacin 500 mg once daily for a total of three days.

An antidiarrheal drug such as Imodium or Lomotil should be taken as needed to slow the frequency of stools, but not enough to stop the bowel movements completely.

Most cases of travelers' diarrhea are mild and do not require either antibiotics or antidiarrheal drugs. Adequate fluid intake is essential.

If diarrhea is severe or bloody, or if fever occurs with shaking chills, or if abdominal pain becomes marked, or if diarrhea persists for more than 72 hours, medical attention should be sought.

The Ecuadorian dishes, the ingredients and condiments tend to be very different from those in your home country, so enjoy them with caution. Eat small portions and observe how your organism reacts to the new product. Many food intoxications are caused by not giving yourself the necessary time to get used to the new food.

Use common sense, the cleaner the places, the more trustworthy they are. If you aren't sure, ask someone from the city or neighborhood about the quality of service of a specific place. If you are going to eat fruits or vegetables, you should wash them well with purified water in order to avoid problems later.

For more info please see: MDTravelHealth.com

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