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Common illnesses on the Camino de Santiago: How should the pilgrim act?

The Camino de Santiago can cause some difficulties if pilgrims do not anticipate them. What are the most common and how to proceed with each one?

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One of the first things we start thinking about after feeling that the day to day is becoming monotonous and repetitive, is traveling. The Camino de Santiago is one of the best options to restorephysical and mental health, as it offers the possibility to explore new places and connect with nature. In addition, it releases stress and relieves the tension of the daily routine causing all thoughts to reset and heal. 

However, forgetting an item, choosing the wrong items or suffering from various ailments can turn the experience into a real nightmare. Regardless of the starting point, the routes are shaped by a large number of miles ahead. Feet and endurance are one of the most powerful tools during the journey, which is why the contents of the backpack, selecting the right footwear and knowing how to act in different situations are some of the things pilgrims should take into account.

The Camino de Santiago can cause some difficulties if pilgrims do not anticipate them. It is for this reason that we have compiled below a series of diseases that people who set out to walk along the various pilgrimage routes may experience. What are the most common and how to proceed with each one?

Dehydration

Dehydration is a condition that occurs especially in the hottest months of the year. It is important to drink water before, during and after each stage, as it helps regulate temperature, lubricates joints and provides more energy. A good way to stay well hydrated is to hang a bottle in your backpack so you always have it handy and drink every two hours. 

  • How to combat dehydration? In case of excessive sweating, fatigue or weakness, drinking plenty of water is recommended. If, on the other hand, there have been episodes of dizziness or vomiting, it is advisable to start hydrating with water in small sips. 

Heat stroke or heatstroke

Heat stroke also occurs especially in the summer season. That is why pilgrims who decide to do the Camino de Santiago during the hottest months should be especially careful with high temperatures and keep well hydrated, protect the skin with sunscreen, wear light clothing and make stops in the shade. 

  • How to treat heat stroke? It will be essential to seek urgent medical attention, as the heat of the body can affect some organs. To act immediately and lower the body temperature, it is important to find a shady area, lie down with your feet raised and apply cold water to the nape of the neck, forehead and armpits. 

Chafing and wounds on the feet

As we said before, the feet are one of the most important tools of the Camino de Santiago. Difficult paths and long walks are some of the aspects that pilgrims encounter along the way, which is why it is essential to wear good footwear. However, chafing, blisters and wounds may appear after the routes. 

  • How to cure blisters on the feet? In addition to recommending the use of breathable footwear to avoid their appearance, one of the keys is to equip in the backpack a first aid kit with gauze, plasters, a needle and Vaseline. If you are prone to this type of foot injury, the ideal would be to carry a gel pad to prevent it. 

Insect bites

Insect bites are also the order of the day on the routes leading to Santiago de Compostela. Whether they are mosquitoes or any other insect, the swelling can become very annoying for the bearer. The swelling should be treated, if possible, immediately to avoid future discomfort. 

  • How to treat insect bites? An anti-mosquito cream or lotion for clothing is another indispensable item in any pilgrim's backpack. If you are prone to the appearance of bites, you will be sure to prevent the problem. In case you have the typical swelling, the cream will alleviate the symptoms. 

Sprains and muscle injuries

Some routes of the Camino de Santiago go up and down steep mountains or trails, so in addition to having to be alert all the time of where our feet step, excessive effort can result in a muscle injury. Whether due to an overloaded backpack, too many kilometers walked in a short period of time or an oversight, muscles and tendons can suffer. 

  • How can muscle injuries be prevented? First of all, it is advisable not to take your eyes off the ground and to keep your concentration when walking on dangerous, cobblestone trails. On the other hand, it is advisable to carry only what is necessary in the backpack, so as not to overload the back and legs. Last but not least, make stops and rest for a minimum of time to recover energy.

Sunburn

Sunburn can occur at any time of the year. Some parts of the body such as the face, arms and legs are exposed to the sun during the hours of walking. This exposure can wreak havoc on the health of the skin, causing damage that can ruin the experience. 

  • What is recommended to avoid skin burns? Wear a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses with an ultraviolet filter, drink plenty of water along the way and apply sunscreen of at least 30 SPF, even on cloudy days. 

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