Staying Healthy in Peru
The extent of most health problems tourists face while in Peru is altitude sickness while in the Cusco or Lake Titicaca area. Altitude sickness ranges from mild to very serious and results from rapidly ascending to altitudes higher than 2500m. Many of Peru’s main attractions are at high altitudes including Cusco (3326m), Machu Picchu (2500m), and Lake Titicaca (3820m) so you should take appropriate measures to ensure you stay healthy if travelling to these sites. Mild altitude sickness can just make you feel more tired than usual, make you run out of breath faster or give you nausau, while severe altitude sickness can cause vomitting and can be life threatening. It is suggested to work you way up to high altitudes instead of just going directly from sea level, and if you must directly ascend then most people find that prescriptions for altitude medications help greatly. While at high altitudes it is important to drink more water than usual, a liter more per day, and eat light meals high in carbohydrates. The local remedy for altitude sickness is tea made of coca leaves, which will often be available for free at your accommodation.
It is also important to be aware of what you consume while travelling in Peru. The tap water is not safe to drink, so buy bottled water which is very cheap. Also, eating food off of the street or in cheap eateries can make you temporarily, but very sick. So, be sure that the restaurant you choose to eat at is clean, and usaully a good rule of thumb is that if many people are eating there it is safe but if no one is it should be avoided. Although the temperatures in much of Peru is cold because of the high altitude, it is important to remember that you are very close to the Equator meaning that the sun’s radiation is very strong. Be sure to put on sunscreen every morning and to re-apply thoughout the day as well as wear sunglasses with good protection.