21 November 2019
The ability to deliver first aid can save lives during accidents, such as those that might take place during hiking expeditions. Photo: HKEJ
The ability to deliver first aid can save lives during accidents, such as those that might take place during hiking expeditions. Photo: HKEJ

First-aid tips for travelers

Easter is around the corner and many people are preparing to travel overseas during the long holiday weekend.

The following quick-fix tips may be helpful in case of minor injuries while traveling.

1. Ice treatment: Ice decreases blood circulation by constricting blood vessels. Such constriction can reduce pain, swelling, inflammation, and bleeding.

Ice packs are commonly used on sprained, strained and bruised areas. The effect is significant, especially when the method is applied within 72 hours.

The injured part of the body should be elevated and covered with a wet towel under the ice pack to avoid direct skin contact. Freeze the area for 15 minutes and repeat the treatment every two hours.

2. Heat treatment: Heat is used on an old injury that causes pain for more than three days. Heat causes blood vessels to dilate, stimulating blood circulation, metabolism, and healing of damaged tissue.

Place a dry towel between the heat source and the skin for protection. Same as ice treatment, heat should be applied for no more than 15 minutes; re-apply two to three times a day.

Keep the temperature within 40 to 45 degree Celsius. Despite its effectiveness, heat treatment is not suitable for people who have heart disease, high blood pressure, acute inflammation, dermatitis or peripheral vascular disease.

Patients whose skin is wounded, has poor sensation of temperature (e.g. diabetic patients) or can’t follow instructions (e.g. Alzheimer’s patients) are not recommended to use heat treatment either.

3. Pain relief patch: Pain relief patches are often placed on the site of pain but that location may not be the origin of pain.

Take occipital neuralgia as an example. The pain is caused by the pressure on nerve roots extending from cervical intervertebral foramen.

Patients may experience pain from the head and neck, to shoulders, arms, and fingers. The hand will be a wrong location to place the pain relief patch. Instead, it should be placed on areas that the nerve roots are compressed.

Patients must have a clear understanding of the level of injuries. In case of a twisted ankle that gives severe pain and the patient has difficulties standing or walking, the ankle may have been fractured.

Bone fractures must be treated by proper medical procedures. Self-diagnosis and self-prescription are not reliable. If the injury doesn’t get better in a week of time, it may get worse. Patients should seek professional help as early as possible before further development of complications.

This article appeared at the Hong Kong Economic Journal on March 20

Translation by John Chui

[Chinese version 中文版]

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