Health and Medicine
There are many general and specialised hospitals in the Kingdom, as well as clinics, infirmaries and private clinics offering their services.
Medicines and drugs are easily obtainable without prescription in pharmacies, but sometimes prescriptions with generic names are needed, since brand names in the Kingdom may differ from elsewhere.
Hospital and clinic facilities are provided free of charge for the pilgrims. There are wheelchair facilities available as well as hospital facilities in Arafat and Mina.
You will notice that the doctor or pharmacist, making pen stripes on the box of your prescribed medicine. Three stripes, means take three times a day, two stripes means take twice a day etc.
There is a very high probability that during this trip you may catch a cold or the flu due to being in and out of the sun and air-conditioned rooms. It is also very likely that you will be coming home with a cough, affectionately known as the "Hajji cough". Take all the required vaccinations. Meningitis jab is always recommended.
Obtain a certificate or a doctor's note of proof of the vaccinations you've taken. The Saudi Arabian embassy may need this before issuing you with a visa. Details can be obtained from the embassy as to which vaccinations are required. If you are allergic to certain antibiotics, get your doctor to prescribe an antibiotic for flu and throat infections and have it dispensed in order to take with you. If you are carrying any medicine with you, also keep a doctor's letter regarding it.
Take some or all of the following with you. These things are all available in Saudi Arabia however; it is much easier to go prepared:
- Headache tablets;
- Salt tablets (especially if you sweat a lot);
- Muscle cramp ointment;
- Vitamin C tablets (take one of these daily);
- Throat lozenges & Cough syrup;
- Cream for skin irritation (Remember, you (men) will be wearing no underwear and pants while in Ihraam, and the friction can become painful);
- Moisturising cream (for your dry skin and heels);
- Plasters (band aids) and some bandages;
- Diarrhoea tablets.
Sun block or some sun protection cream may also be very handy. Do not use it while you are in Ihraam.
Take a pair of sunglasses, especially if you have sensitive eyes.
Take a dust mask if you are allergic to dust. This also helps reducing the hazards of the car fumes.
Ensure that all the medicine taken along with you is clearly labelled to avoid problems at customs.
The probability of getting a cold is very high! If you don't get sick, thank Allah.
To make an analogy: When you study for an exam you need to revise everything, just in case it comes up in the exam. Many times you study an entire book and only one small part is contained in the exam. Similarly you need to take all the possible medicines with you, just in case...
Do not be in a hurry to give away any of your medicine, as many pilgrims get sick a few days after Hajj.
If you are sick, be patient and try not to complain too much.
Jabir (may Allah be pleased with him) relates that: "The Prophet (saw) visited Umm Sa'ib or Ummul Musaiyab and asked her:
‘What has happened to you, O Ummu Sa'ib or Ummul Musaiyab? Why are you shivering?’ She answered: ‘It is a fever; may Allah not bless it.’ He said to her: ‘Do not abuse the fever, because it cleans the sins of the children of Adam as a furnace cleans the dirt of iron’." (Muslim)
Drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration. Drinking very cold drinks after being in the hot sun is NOT very good for your throat. It may cause you to develop a sore throat or cough. (However, there are times when nothing but an ice cold drink will quench your thirst.)
Drinking yogurt or laban (milky drink) helps in providing the salt your body needs.
Avoid standing in front of an air-conditioner to cool down.
Do not sleep with the air-conditioner blowing directly on top of you.
The days of Hajj require 100% of your health and strength. Try to avoid doing strenuous things, such as climbing mountains, which will reduce your energy and health capacity.
Heat exhaustion and heat stroke are two of the most common clinical disorders pilgrims face during Hajj.
Stay out of direct sunlight as much as possible. However, do not use this as an excuse to miss Dhuhr or Asr salah in the Haram. Remember that the reward for salah in the Haram is worth 100,000 times that of a salah in another mosque except the Haram in Madinah (1,000) and Masjid-ul-Aqsa (500).
Food poisoning: Take care of your personal hygiene and be careful of what and where you eat. In most hotels the tap water is not potable (drinkable water). You will need to buy bottled water or bring zamzam from the Haram.
Diarrhoea: Some steps you should take if you have diarrhoea - only eat fruit with a thick skin (i.e. that must be peeled); boil water before you drink it or only drink bottled beverages; don't eat cold meats, shell fish, raw seafood or reheated food; don't drink tap water; don't use ice cubes unless you know they've been made with purified water; don't eat fried or fatty foods, dairy products, spicy foods or “acidic” fruits or vegetables (e.g. oranges, tomatoes); try to eat bland food (boiled rice or potatoes), toast (without butter or margarine but with jam or honey) or plain biscuits; drink plenty of fluids (no fruit juices or milk); drink a liquid that will help replace the salt in your body.
Upper respiratory tract infections (sore throat, coughing): This is usually caused by viruses. Minimise the risk of infection by unnecessary exhaustion, taking proper bed rest and using a face mask when required. Also don’t share the same drinks, eating utensils or water flasks with fellow pilgrims, especially if they are sick.
Use sunglasses if you have sensitive eyes. Around the Haram areas and inside at the tawaaf areas are marble tiles which cause a very strong glare in the sun. This can be harmful to your eyes. Try the following: instead of putting your hand on your forehead to cover your eyes from the glare, put your hand on your nose directly under your eyes. This will stop the glare, which is reflecting upwards.
Use an umbrella. This can be purchased in Makkah. Buy one without the sharp point as this can be harmful to other pilgrims when you are in a crowd. Also buy a white or green coloured one, instead of a black one (the black draws the heat).
Keep a water flask (container) with you. It is sometimes very difficult to buy or obtain cold water.
You will notice that the doctor or pharmacist, making pen stripes on the box of your prescribed medicine. Three stripes means take three times a day, two stripes means take twice a day etc.