Getting sick in India is, unfortunately, for some people part of the experience. Food safety standards and water quality are different, and that’s usually why tourists fall sick.
Don’t do what I did and assume that your stomach issues will pass. Mine don’t.
It cost me three days in bed and an awkward six-hour bus ride to Delhi before I decided I was so weak and had lost so much weight that I should go to the hospital.
If you fall sick from food or water some of the symptoms you may experience are constipation, vomiting, diarrhoea, loss of appetite, tiredness, and weakness.
And even though I live in India with my Indian family, my stomach has gotten stronger over time, but I’m still not immune. My wife and I can eat the same food, but I’ll get sick and she won’t. That’s how it is.
If you want to know about what vaccinations you should have before travelling to India, I’ve covered that in the India travel essentials post.
What to do when you get a stomach infection in India?
When you get sick, the first thing to do is go to the doctor. I’ve never had a stomach infection from food or drink that went away by itself; not like they do back at home, usually within 24 hours.
If you go to the doctor early and get stole & urine tests you can have a diagnosis and medication quickly so you get better and hit the road as soon as possible.
How to find a hospital in India
Luckily in India, there are plenty of hospitals and they are affordable, English is spoken, and medicine is cheap.
There are two major brands of private hospitals in India that you can look for:
When sick, go on Google Maps and research the hospitals in your area. You need to verify the quality of the hospital you visit. Is it a clean, large, and professional-looking premises? If not, keep looking.
If you can, avoid going to a public hospital. They’re nearly free for everyone, last time I paid just ₹5 after I fell off my motorcycle in Ladakh, but they’re a bit busy and chaotic. Opt for private hospitals.
When the doctor is writing your prescription make sure you understand exactly what each pill they are giving you does. I always like to learn about and double-check what I’m taking. I’ve also found doctors in India like to overprescribe for each and every little possibility.
If you have travel insurance, keep your receipts and they’ll likely cover the costs.
How to find drugstores in India
Pharmacies are plentiful in India. It seems like there’s one on every street.
Medication is not as regulated as it is overseas. You can order whatever you want without a prescription.
Always see a doctor, don’t self-medicate.
There are also a number of apps that will deliver medications to your hotel. Some include NetMeds, Practo, Apollo Pharmacy, Medlife.
Tip: Talk to your local doctor before you leave and carry medication with you for constipation, diarrhoea, and dehydration. Label each drug, so you know what it does.
Are mosquitos really an issue in India?
India has a problem with mosquito-borne diseases. I don’t wear repellent religiously every day though. I wear it when I notice a lot of mosquitos around.
Mosquito season in India is summer and monsoon (Apr-Sept). In winter (Dec-Mar), when tourists usually visit, there are far fewer mosquitos around.
I’ve personally been bitten hundreds of times over the years and never gotten dengue or malaria, but I know friends who have.
India Survival Guide Table of contents
- Travel Essentials: Before You Travel to India
- Arriving in India: Getting to Your Hotel & Airport Amenities
- Tourist Scams to Avoid in India
- Avoiding Fake Money & Ripped Notes in India
- Avoiding Bad Accommodation
- How to Bargain, Get Refunds, and How Much Rickshaws Cost
- Avoiding Counterfeit Souvenirs in India
- How to Be Street Smart in India
- Buses and Trains in India Explained
- Food and Drink Safety for Travellers
- What to Do If You Get Sick in India
- How to Deal with Air Pollution in India