An Expat’s Predicament: What to Do If You Get Sick While Away From Family

Sickness is one of those times when the value of family and friends manifests most evidently. If you become afflicted while away from your near ones, you may have few options other than to care for yourself. For those who are used to living away from home it may not seem like a daunting task. Still, with flagging energy levels and loss of productivity it gets harder to stay positive when sick. The following practical tips should make things easier at such a trying time.

Plan ahead

People with healthy lifestyles are rarely stricken by illness unexpectedly. If you have a susceptibility to a certain type of sickness, or suffer from a known allergy, or if there is an epidemic warning for your area, it may be possible to get prophylactic meds and other important supplies. Be proactive about this. Avoiding sickness is much preferable to treating it. If your profession exposes you to environment or equipment which involves the occupational hazard of getting injured, you must have a well-stocked first aid kit and be proficient in its use.

Live right

A healthy diet, regular exercise and a clean lifestyle can ensure that you get sick next to never. Living healthy will also help you avoid the worst effects of illness and recover much faster in case you do fall ill. Another important aspect of living healthy is having a network of close friends who help each other in times of need. When you are away from home and in a new place, cultivating such friends can take time and effort. Make that investment so that over time your anxieties about being helpless in a time of need will melt away. Exploring your surroundings can be useful too. Knowing about the shops, malls, restaurants, clinics and other services near where you live is vital information that will serve you well whether or not you are coping with sickness.

Know your affliction

Several health conditions are not easy to self-diagnose. Weakness and light fever are symptoms common to a variety of diseases. What seems like an allergic reaction at first can turn out to be food poisoning. When you are sick, undermining the severity of your condition or self medicating without a proper diagnosis can greatly exacerbate your situation. The importance of an accurate diagnosis cannot be overstated. When in doubt make sure to get a doctor’s professional opinion before starting any medication. You may have to spend a few bucks to see a physician, but you stand to lose much more in productivity if you don’t see one and your condition worsens.


Keep a stock of canned or ready-to-eat foods in the event that you do get sick and feel too weak to do much. Instant noodles and soups, readymade meals, juices, fruits, nuts, chocolate, breakfast cereal, cookies, milk, yoghurt, cheese, ice cream and many other foods can be consumed with minimal or no preparation. In case you find yourself out of supplies when sick, see if you can have them delivered or have a friend shop for you. Eating regularly and keeping your energy up is important if you want to ensure a speedy recovery.

Stay positive

Sickness saps the energy from the body. It makes us slow, lethargic and weak. In such a state our capacity and motivation for doing things, even necessary chores, is dulled. Call your family or friends to cheer you up. You may also get a tip or two about an effective home remedy for your condition. Thinking of all the things you would do when you recover can reinforce your motivation to get well. Keeping clean is a great morale booster. Take out the trash before it starts to stink. Let in some fresh air and sunlight. Shower when you can. Change your bed linen and keep things generally tidy around yourself. You will feel purposeful and recover much faster. You can always postpone the more elaborate housekeeping to later.