Today, Hajj and Umrah are the two most popular pilgrimages in Islam. As one of the five pillars of Islam, Hajj is a compulsory duty for every healthy living Muslim that can afford the journey. The Hajj’s journey to Mecca often takes place during the Dhu al-Hijjah month. Umrah, on the other hand, has a lot of similarities with Hajj. The biggest difference, however, is that Umrah can take place at any time within a year.
Today, when travelling to the pilgrimages of Hajj and Umrah, one important thing to keep in mind is your health. How do you take care of your health and follow the right regulations on this trip?
Regulations for Hajj and Umrah in Saudi Arabia
As earlier mentioned, Hajj is a very popular pilgrimage to Mecca, in Saudi Arabia. This holy pilgrimage, which often takes place during the Dhu al-Hijjah month, always receives roughly 1 to 3 million pilgrims annually before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Umrah is also a popular pilgrimage to Mecca. As long as you’re healthy and can afford to journey to Mecca, you can always complete this pilgrimage at any time of year. Interestingly, you can either choose to combine Umrah with the Hajj (Umrat al-tammatu) or perform it separately from the Hajj (al-Umrat al mufradah).
When planning your trip to Mecca, one important thing is to visit the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO). Of course, this consultation should be about getting the latest information on the entry rules and regulations to follow.
You also need to consult the Saudi Arabia Ministry of Health to understand the different requirements and regulations that you need to meet. The Saudi Arabia Ministry of Health is also responsible for issuing different recommendations for the Hajj and Umrah entry visas and vaccinations yearly.
Are the Hajj and Umrah pilgrimages for everyone?
The bitter truth is that the Hajj and Umrah aren’t for everyone. This is true because they are physically demanding pilgrimages. You need to be in the best health conditions to consider journeying to Mecca in Saudi Arabia for these pilgrimages.
You should consider staying away from the Hajj or Umrah if:
- You’re over the age of 65 and have a chronic health condition, such as heart disease, kidney issues, diabetes, lung disease, cancer, and other terminal illnesses.
- You should consider postponing the trip if your health condition greatly affects your immune system.
- Hajj and Umrah aren’t for you if you’re pregnant and below 12 years. In this case, you can consider postponing the trip until you’re eligible enough.
Requirements for vaccine & Insurance
Before going on a trip to Mecca for the Hajj or Umrah pilgrimage, it’s important to consult the right organisation for your vaccine requirements. You should schedule this consultation at least 6 to 8 weeks before your travelling day.
- First, you need a certificate showing the completion of your childhood vaccinations, tetanus, diphtheria, polio, and a few others.
- Furthermore, you need to identify and receive the required vaccinations in Saudi Arabia.
- Seasonal influenza vaccines are also important for your trip to Mecca.
In addition to the above vaccine requirements, pilgrims are also expected to purchase comprehensive travel insurance. Check the travel insurance page to see more information on how to buy your travel insurance.
Hajj and Umrah often require lots of physical activities, such as walking. These pilgrimages require covering a few miles daily. Unfortunately, even the fittest pilgrims over get affected in one way or another.
- For this trip, you should avoid overexerting yourself. Doing that can always trigger different health-related issues, such as heart attacks, leading to death.
- Furthermore, you need to improve your overall mobility & fitness before your trip.
- If you have any known health condition and are above 50 years, you certainly need to go for a general health checkup to be sure you’re fit enough to travel. The bottom line is to keep your medical issues under control for the trip.
Taking Medication Abroad
- As a pilgrim, if you have any known health issues, you need to visit your doctor for new prescriptions and get enough medications before going on your trip.
- You should also get a formal letter that details your current medications from your doctor. You’ll certainly need it during your trip.
- Ensure to visit the FCDO website for more information regarding prohibited medications in the country.
Tips on how to delay your period
Surely, you know that one of the many rituals of Umrah and Hajj is that it requires the absence of menstruation. This means you need to do all you can to delay your period for the duration of time you’ll be spending on your trip to these pilgrimages.
Today, it’s pretty easy to delay your period for the Hajj. All you need is to visit Ashcroft Pharmacy to buy some of the best and most effective hormonal medications, such as Norethisterone tablets. Of course, before going ahead to buy and take any hormonal medication, you need to speak with your doctor for at least 2 months or more before embarking on the trip.
A first aid kit is also important for your trip to Mecca. Ensure to speak with your doctor or nurse to identify the essential items and medications to add to the kit.
Diarrhoea in Travellers
Today, Diarrhoea is a very common phenomenon among pilgrims in Mecca. In 2021 alone, roughly half of the entire pilgrims with GI symptoms reported diarrhoea.
Today, diarrhoea has many different causes that aren’t a result of underlying health conditions. Two common causes are viruses and eating contaminated food. The use of laxatives, liquid diet, anxiety, stress, and food intolerance, are other diarrhoea causes.
Below are a few tips on how to avoid diarrhoea firing your pilgrimage trip to Mecca:
- Always consider washing your hands properly before eating to avoid getting infected.
- Dehydration and travellers’ diarrhoea have a lot in common. You should avoid getting dehydrated if you have diarrhoea. One effective way to stay hydrated is by taking plenty of safe drinking water and other fluids, such as diluted fruit juices. Rehydration solutions are also effective for avoiding dehydration.
You certainly need medical attention if you currently experience the following diarrhoea symptoms:
- You often experience roughly 6 bouts of diarrhoea daily
- You notice blood or slime in your diarrhoea
- Medical attention is also essential if you vomit and can’t keep fluids down.
- Fever and severe stomach pain are a few other reasons why you might need to get medical attention during the pilgrimage.
MERS CoV and Respiratory Infections
Since Mecca often receives millions of people yearly, it’s important to understand that MERS CoV and other respiratory infections can easily be spread. As such, ensure to follow the latest Respiratory Hygiene advice to avoid or reduce your risks of contracting Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS CoV).
Health Dangers due to climate
Saudi Arabia is generally known for its extremely hot temperature during the summer months. Even during the winter season, some parts of this country also experience high temperatures, reaching up to 30°C during the day. Unfortunately, this extremely hot temperature can always expose you to different issues, such as heat exhaustion, dehydration, heat stroke, and sunburn.
Early arrival to Mecca is a good way to quickly adapt to the Saudi Arabia weather conditions before the Hajj or Umrah begins. The temperature is usually very high during the daytime. As such, you can always perform some of your rituals between sunrise & sunset.
To avoid various climate-related health dangers, you should consider
- Using sunscreen with at least factor 15.
- Taking a break when your body calls for it is very important during the pilgrimage.
- Safe drinking water is important during this trip.
- Durable and high-quality shoes are essential to keep your feet protected
Avoiding Mosquito Bites
Diseases such as chikungunya, Rift Valley fever, dengue fever, and leishmaniasis, can easily be transmitted with the help of mosquito bites. As such, you need to do all you can to avoid getting bitten by mosquitoes.
We’re sure you understand that shaving has a strong connection with the transmission of blood-borne viruses. As such, you need to be careful with the type of razor blades you’ll be using throughout your trip.
To reduce your risk of getting hepatitis B and HIV, you should:
- Try and stay away from sharing your shaving razors.
- A licensed and professional barber is important.
- Ask your barber to keep their hands clean before proceeding with the shaving.
- Only settle for the new disposable one-time-use razor.
Injuries and accidents
Accidents and injuries are pretty common during the Hajj and Umrah pilgrimage. As such, you should prepare your mind ahead before going on a trip. For instance, you need to put on protective footwear that will give you comfort while walking to complete the pilgrimage.
What happens when you return home
Since visiting pilgrimages can sometimes be stressful, you certainly need to call your GP when you return home from your trip. Fever and respiratory health condition symptoms are a few things you may experience. You should check with your GP and be sure you’re free from all these issues.