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Health in Colombia

Colombia offers professional doctors, hospitals and good medical care all over the country. Nevertheless, you better not visit free hospitals as there's a huge difference in quality with private ones.

EMERGENCY NUMBER -> 123

PREPARATION
Vaccinations you need

Deep vein thrombosis (dvt): During your long flight to/ from Colombia it is a good idea to walk a little now and then and to have plenty of drinks. This is to prevent blood clots in your veins. 

Jet lag: To avoid a jet lag, drink plenty of non-alcoholic fluids and eat light meals. Try to readjust your schedule (food, sleep) as quickly as possible.

IN COLOMBIA
Though Latin America generally spoken is better for your stomach then Africa or Asia, you'll probably get some stomach problems, especially when this is your first time.  There will be new bacteria and probably you've got to get used to the heat and heights. You may well suffer from a combination of puking and bad diarrhea at the same time... This is called Montezuma's revenge = travelers diarrhea! Don’t worry... You´ll feel ’shitty’ (excuse the pun) but you´ll get over it very quickly. Drink lots of water with ORS (oral rehydration salts). Check first if you can drink water from the tab, guava juice with lemon, a bunch of bananas and salty crackers and eventually take some inhibitors against diarrhea. If after some days the situation doesn't change or if you got a fever... Go and see a doctor.

COSTS
A normal doctor won't charge you more than 60.000 COP. Going directly to a specialist can cost between 150.000 and 200.000 COP. A visit at the dentist will start with 40.000 COP. Medication is generally spoken inexpensive and can be found in drugstores or in supermarkets. They also sell loose tablets. Contraceptive tablets can be found at the drogueria (drugstore, you find them EVERYWHERE) or farmacia and you don’t need a prescription.

TIP: Against hangover -> Bonfiest, Alka-Seltzer, water with lemon

DISEASES

Altitude Sickness: (Commonly called mountain disease or Soroche) With rapid rises to heights above 2500 meters (8202 feet), you´ll feel your body reacting. Acclimatization can take days. The best thing to do is: climb step by step and don't directly ask too much from your body. Especially the first two days after an elevation one should be alert to the signs and symptoms of altitude sickness:  headache, insomnia, nausea, lethargy and unusual fatigue. If you're hiking and it occurs to you: tell your guide and don't keep on climbing. Altitude Sickness will disappear when you descent but if not it can be life threatening! Some people consider Diamox (acetazolamide) useful in preventing altitude sickness. This medicine helps your body to adapt quickly to altitude. Diamox does have some side effects and its use should therefore be well considered and previously discussed with a doctor. The use can never replace proper acclimatisation in the first place.  Keep yourself well hydrated at all times, even when you’re not thirsty! And also remember to sunscreen your ears, nose and lips!

Dengue, chikungunya and zika: are viral infections from the same family transmitted by the bite of a mosquito. Symptoms can be: high fever, headache, muscular pain, body rash, nausea, vomiting and fatigue. Especially with dengue it can be very important to be treated quickly if not, some forms may turn chronic. See also Mosquitoes in Colombia.

Malaria: is also caused by mosquitoes and must be treated as fast as possible. The risk of getting malaria in Colombia is not too big (it might occur in the Amazon and the Chocó department) so a lot of travelers make the choice of not taking malaria pills - who can have severe side effects - as a precaution, but as quickly as they think they might have the disease (heavy fever). Check in advance how many pills you have to take in that case and consult a doctor as quickly as possible if you're afraid you're infected. Remember that Colombian doctors know these diseases well and will know what to do. Nevertheless, the best tip is precaution against mosquito bites! Mosquitoes in Colombia.

Parasites:  If you are very tired, not hungry and you feel weak, you may have parasites in your body. And for sure if you see movement in your stool! Consult a doctor. Hospitals with lab facilities can test.

Food poisoning: That's one disease nobody has to explain that you have it 'cause it will leave your body from every hole it can find! Nevertheless, keep on drinking! We mean, of course, keep yourself well hydrated!

NATURAL MEDICINES

Sanagua is a medicinal fruit from Chía in the region of Cundinamarca. It cures a lot and activates the immune system. You can cut open the fruit and drink the juice. More information: [email protected]. Colombia Fácil found it in Buga in the marketplace (galeria).

Noni is called the queen of natural medicines. The fruit smells like rotten cheese and taste nasty but is very HEALTHY. So are the leaves. You can make tea from them but also wrap them on a sore spot and let them do their work while sleeping. You'll find the tree in a lot of places of Colombia. Type noni on internet and you'll find heaps more of information.

Your stomach looks like a big balloon and hurts because you cannot go to the toilet? Eat some pitaya fruit or papaya and soon enough you will running to the loo!

PLASTIC SURGERY /DENTISTRY

Colombia is famous for its dentistry and plastic surgery. To have fake boobs, a great face without wrinkles, a flat stomach and protruding buttocks is a normal everyday thing here. Someone with brackets can be taken as a sign that he/she has money. Wearing a brace at a later age is definitely not an issue. To think about: Edith from Colombia Fácil got her first molar implant in Colombia. Instead of paying 2250 Euro in Holland, she paid 700 and it is well done. She's also happy with her eyes being lasered in Colombia...

GENERAL HEALTH CLINICS

Bogota - Fundación Santa Fé de Bogotá
Calle 119 # 7 - 75
Tel: 1-60 30 303
Open: Monday - Sunday, 24 hours
Email: [email protected]
Website: Hospital Universitario 

Barranquilla - Clínica de la Costa
Cra 50 # 80-90
Tel: 5-33 69 999
Website: Clinica de la Costa.com

Medellin - Hospital Universitario San Vicente de Paul

Calle 64 # 51D - 154
Tel: 4- 44 41 333 
Tel: 4- 51 46 600 
Website: Hospital Universistario San Vicente de Paul 
Email: Contact Hospital

Good dentist:
Paula Ramírez
Cr 68 A # 43-13 Edf Centro 43 CS. 305 (San Joaquín, Lauréles) Medellín
Tel. (4) 581 52 07 / 310 434 24 50
[email protected]
www.paularamirez.com.co
Facebook, Instagram: PaulaRamirezConsultorio

Cali - Fundación Valle del Lili - Sede Principal
Av. Simón Bolívar, Cra 98 # 18 - 49
Tel: 2-33 19 090 
Website Spanish: Valle del Lili

Santa Marta - Hospital Universitario Fernando Troconis
Cra 14 # 23 - 42
Tel: 5-4365007
Website: www.hospitalfernandotroconis.com

Cartagena - Hospital Universitario del Caribe
Cll 29 # 50 - 50
Tel. 300 837 4037
website: www.hucaribe.gov.co

Amazonas - Hospital San Rafael de Leticia
Avenida Vásquez Cobo - Cra 10 # 13 - 78 Leticia
Tel. 8 - 5927826
Website: www.esehospitalsanrafael-leticia-amazonas.gov.co