Make sure food has been thoroughly cooked and is served to you fresh and hot. If you have problems, mild cases of traveler's diarrhea may respond to Imodium (known generically as loperamide) or Pepto-Bismol. Be sure to drink plenty of fluids; if you can't keep fluids down, seek medical help immediately.

Infectious diseases can be airborne or passed via mosquitoes and ticks and through direct or indirect physical contact with animals or people. Some, including Norwalk-like viruses that affect your digestive tract, can be passed along through contaminated food. Condoms can help prevent most sexually transmitted diseases, but they aren't absolutely reliable, and their quality varies from country to country. Speak with your physician and/or check the CDC or World Health Organization websites for health alerts, particularly if you're pregnant, traveling with children, or have a chronic illness.

Over-the-Counter Remedies

Pharmacies in Prague are well stocked with prescription and nonprescription drugs, though you may have trouble persuading a pharmacist to fill a foreign prescription. It's best to bring from home all of the prescribed medications you are likely to need. Pharmacies are generally open during regular business hours from 9 am to 6 pm, with some offering night and weekend service. A new law requires a standard 30 Kč fee per prescription. During off-hours, pharmacies will often post the name and address of the nearest open pharmacy on their doors. Pharmacies not only sell prescription medicines but are the only licensed dealers of typical over-the-counter products like pain relievers and cough medicines. Most standard U.S. over-the-counter products have Czech equivalents. Aspirin is widely available. However, items such as aspirin cannot be found outside pharmacies. The most common nonaspirin pain reliever is Ibalgin (ibuprofen), sold in 200 mg and 400 mg doses.

Pharmacists may not speak English or know a drug's non-Czech brand name, but will certainly know the drug's generic name ("acetaminophen" for Tylenol, for example). Be sure to call a drug by its generic name when asking for it.

Shots and Medications

If you plan on doing a lot of hiking or camping, note that tick-borne Lyme disease is a serious risk in the woodlands of the Czech Republic. Schedule vaccinations well in advance of departure, because some require several doses, and others may cause uncomfortable side effects.

To avoid problems clearing customs, diabetic travelers carrying needles and syringes should have on hand a letter from their physician confirming their need for insulin injections.

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