Why Getting ‘Plastered’ In London Might Not Mean What You Think It Means…

Heading out to London for the Olympic Games?  Only thirty days to go!

You will have a fabulous time, no matter how much it rains – and most surely, it will rain.  Londoners know how to throw a party whatever the weather!  But just in case you come down with a cold or suffer a mishap or two during a perfectly innocent pub visit or walking tour, here are some travel tips:

Speak the Queen’s English, if you please!

Listed below are some health-related terms that are different from American English in British English.  It will save time and confusion if you are familiar with them:

  • We say ER (emergency room) or ED (emergency department).  They say: A&E (accident and emergency).
  • We say Pharmacist.  They say Chemist.
  • We say Attending Physician.  They say Consultant.
  • We say Dizzy, Unbalanced.  They say Giddy (really!)
  • We say Aches, Pain (“my back hurts!”).  They say Gip (“my back is giving me gip”).
  • We say Vacation.  They say Holiday.
  • We say Shots, Vaccination.  They say Jabs.
  • We say Truck.  They say Lorry.
  • We say Restroom.  They say Loo.
  • We say  Acetaminophen.  They say Paracetamol.
  • We say Band-Aid.  They say Plaster, Elastoplast.
  • We say Doctor’s Office.  They say Surgery.
  • We say Rubbing Alcohol.  They say Surgical Spirit.
  • We call 911.  They ring 999.

Okay.  Let’s give it a try.

Before you head over, keep in mind that some diseases and illnesses that are very rare here in the States, such as measles, are more common in other countries.  Be sure you and any children or young adults traveling with you have had all their jabs.  And even if you had the requisite, routine vaccines as a child, check with your primary care physican to see if a tetanus/diphtheria/pertussis booster is in order.

Remember, when stepping off the curb or crossing a road or street: over there, it’s always Look Right, Look Left, and Look Right again – just the opposite of what we do here.  Really pay attention to this, especially at night (or after a glass or two of wine).  In England, they drive on the left.  Don’t let yourself get carted off to the A&E after being hit by a passing lorry!

You will head for the nearest A&E, or call 999, in the event of a serious illness or injury.  Otherwise, for a pulled muscle or cuts, blisters or scrapes and minor upsets, get to a pharmacy or walk-in center (no appointment needed).  Of course, your regular health insurance very likely will not cover you while you’re overseas, so be prepared to pay for any medical services out-of-pocket.  Strongly consider getting yourself some travel health insurance before you go that will reimburse you for these costs when you get back home and file your claim.

Finally, embrace that holiday spirit and have a wonderful time – but don’t ignore the usual basics:

  • Always buckle up – seatbelts never go on vacation or holiday!
  • Wash hands often, with warm water and soap, or use a hand sanitizer.
  • Cough and sneeze into a tissue (or even onto your sleeve if necessary) –  just never into your hands.
  • When outdoors in the daytime, wear sunscreen.  Wear a hat.  Stay hydrated.  Seek shady spots to avoid getting too hot.
  • In large gatherings, both indoors and outdoors, know where all the emergency exits are.
  • If you have sex, use latex condoms.
  • If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation.

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