Health status and Medication: If you suffer from any ailment such as a heart or chest condition or diabetes, tell your doctor or specialist well in advance of your intention to undertake this journey and ask their advice on how to reduce your chances of becoming ill. Get your condition under optimal control. Also ask them for a report to carry with you, with a list of your usual medications. Please take enough medications for your journey and properly label them for the ease of taking.
Take some extra medications of common ailments. Keep one or two days supplies in a hand baggage to avoid missing your dosage during travel.
Dental & Eye Check-up: Have your oral and eye health check ups before this enduring life time journey. Keep an extra pair of glasses in case you loose it or break it.
Sisters: If they feel their days are likely to fall during Hajj then they need to seek advice from their doctor at least 6-8 weeks before Hajj to adjust or delay their periods. This is a controversial issue with two schools of thought. Please be guided by your Ulemah and your own conscience.
Walking: One would require walking a few miles every day during Umrah and Hajj. Therefore, please practice walking, starting about 4 to 6 weeks before departure, and walking greater and greater distances as the time of departure arrives. Rasulallah Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallum often spoke of the importance of physical fitness in general. This preparation will help you tremendously. Hajj is a preparation for strong faith, patience and cultural harmony.
Immunisations: Meningitis vaccine is discussed in detail in other chapter. For advice on other vaccinations like Hepatitis A and malaria tablets consult your doctor.
A proper diabetic diet is very important. Most people would have their food included in their accommodation package. The hotels provide food for many people who do not have special dietary requirements. Diabetics should make their own arrangements where possible, e.g., use brown bread which can be bought easily instead of the tempting white flour rolls or bread that may be on offer.
Luggage and travel (DVT): Please keep the luggage as light as possible. Suite cases should be small and with wheels to avoid stress to back. On long journey blood clot can be formed in leg veins, called deep vein thrombosis. This can be serious risk to health. Keep doing legs and feet exercises and should wear elastic compression stockings. One can take mini aspirin with the doctor’s advice.
Sanitation: Try to maintain high standards of personal and surroundings cleanliness to minimize the diseases. Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said: “Cleanliness is half of the faith”. By following this Hadith, one can earn reward in addition to prevention of diseases spread. Always wash hands before eating or handling food.
Water and Food: Drink plenty of water. Use bottle water or boil it before drinking. Avoid ice as it is not sure about the quality of water from which it is made. Zam Zam is available freely in Makkah and in Madinah and one should try to benefit from it as much as possible. Although the authorities provide disposable cups for drinking Zam Zam in the Haram, people unfamiliar with this practice often mix the used cups with the unused ones resulting in confusion. If one is unsure, rinse out the cup well before use. It is through the sharing of cups that infections can spread from one pilgrim to another. People come from all parts of the world with different hygienic control. Please avoid picking up infections from this source.
In hot weather salts can get depleted. Salt tablets or lemon & honey in water can be taken, if medical condition does not prohibit its use. Oral Re-hydration Salt (ORS) packets are widely available in pharmacies on the counter.
Maintain a high fibre diet, like a bran or wheat cereal, wholemeal bread, vegetables. Laban is freely available and highly nutritious. Take small meals and avoid fried or fatty meal, exposed food, salads and uncooked vegetables. Please eat from good restaurants where hygienic principles are observed. Only eat fruits, which can be peeled like banana, oranges, etc.
The time is for reflection, on your life so far. Use this opportunity to the maximum; you may not get another chance. Seek forgiveness with humility and belief. Special care is required during stoning of Shaitaan. Be careful of other people. If you lose your footwear, do not bend to find it. A little push can throw you to the ground and that can be disastrous.
Constipation: Change in the diet and the hot weather resulting in water depletion, leading to constipation, which can be a real problem. It can affect normal activities resulting in loss of valuable time in Makkah and Madinah. By sticking to above diet and drinking lot of water or Zam Zam should avoid this problem.
Asthma & chest infections: If well controlled, asthma should not pose a problem during Hajj and Umrah. Avoid crowds and dust wherever possible. Take inhalers regularly as advised.
Acute upper respiratory infection is very common. Epidemics of flu-like illnesses are also very common. Vast majority of these are viral. Paracetamol should be enough, but seek medical advice if not sure.
Smoking: Avoid smoking during whole Hajj or Umrah especially when in Ihram. Take this opportunity to give up this habit that causes loss of health and wealth.
Skin Care: Because of the harsh, dry conditions that can be encountered, our bodies are confronted by a big change in the external environment. A good moisturizer applied two or three times a day will help the skin retain moisture and slowly acclimatize. Extra care should be paid to the feet, as performing Hajj with painful feet would add an unnecessary burden.
Men are not allowed to wear underwear. The sweat and the rubbing of the thighs together during walking cause the problem and can be a real trouble in walking. To prevent this, men are advised to use Vaseline or any other non-perfumed moisturizer liberally to the inner side of the thighs frequently throughout the state of Ihram.
Take an umbrella and sun cream to protect against the sun and heat. Even in winter sun can be very hot and cause heat stroke.
Fungal Infections of the feet: If a fungal infection is present, this must be attended to especially if diabetes is present. Treatment must start well before departure so that the infection can be treated adequately.
Fungal infections of the feet resulting in cracks or maceration of the skin can get secondarily infected and can take up to a week to resolve with antibiotics. This is something that one does not need during Umrah or Hajj.
Diabetics must take extra care of their feet. Treat scratches and even tiny cuts promptly until they heal. When walking, avoid crowds and allow enough space in front so that feet are not trampled. If a panicky person is in front of you, move to another place. Remember that open sandals will be worn for the duration of Hajj, so nails should be well trimmed and do not “catch”.
Complications from wounds can easily arise in diabetics resulting in unnecessary pain and discomfort and a possibility of missing Hajj.
Diabetes: Together with a Doctor’s help optimal diabetic control should start at least two months before departure to make sure that control is good and the correct medication is taken.
High Blood Pressure: Please visit your Doctor regularly for few months so that if a change in medication is necessary, it can be introduced and blood pressure is stabilized, well before departure. If you are on diuretics (“water tablets”), you may need to adjust the dose due to hot weather. Please be guided by your blood pressure and seek advice if in doubt.
Diarrhea and vomiting: In situations where there are crowds of people, infections are bound to spread. Remember, germs spread by droplets from our mouth as we speak or when we cough especially if phlegm is present, or by direct contact as in sharing a cup, spoon, fork, etc.
Avoid close contact with people who are ill. Visit them by all means but keep your distance. If you are ill and are fortunate enough to have a visitor, protect your visitor by staying a fair distance away and politely explain to them.
If one has Diarrhea, he/she should drink extra fluids, preferably oral re-hydration salt which is easily available there. If it is more than 6 times in 12 hours and prolonged, please seek medical attention.
Allah’s Blessing may be with you all during this holy journey of life.