Don’t Get Sick at BPM Festival! Healthy Hacks to Stay on Top of Your Party Game
Montezuma’s Revenge. The BPM cough. Food poisoning. Monster hangovers. Chances are you know someone who got sick at BPM last year, and as they can tell you, nothing sucks more than missing parties you flew halfway around the world for into order to pray to the porcelain god of party sacrifice. Mexico is considered a high-risk country (>30%) for traveller’s diarrhea (aka Montezuma’s Revenge), the culprit being bacteria that differ from our own native intestinal flora. Food poisoning is rife from sometimes questionable hygiene and different standards of cleanliness in food preparation and storage. Being in crowded places with other travelers (such as airplanes and packed nightclubs) can greatly increase your risk of colds and flus as well. Take note of these tips, and hopefully you will be lucky enough to survive BPM unscathed by malady, misfortune, and frequent bathroom visits.
► #1 Rule: The first rule of BPM club is you do not drink the tap water. Drink bottled water, carbonated when possible, as some studies suggest carbonated water is more likely to be produced properly. Brush your teeth with bottled water. Don’t get shower water in your mouth.
► Freezing water does not kill the bacteria in question, so you are taking a risk when buying cocktails made with ice. If you aren’t sure if the ice was made with purified water, which is probably never, stick with beer or other premade drinks. Alcoholic drinks won’t necessarily kill bacteria from melting ice made with unpurified water. You might not get sick, but you also might.
► Bring hand sanitizer, and develop an OCD habit of using it before eating, and after touching anything other people are touching, because people are dirty. Bring sanitizing wipes if you can.
► Hangovers: Dehydration is a huge cause of hangover symptoms. Stay hydrated by drinking water while drinking. Drinking a few glasses of water before bed usually helps the next morning (bed? sleep? what?). Gatorade or pedialyte can help with dehydration as well, but I like coconut water personally. Do not take Tylenol (acetaminophen or paracetamol) for headaches when hungover or drinking, it’s harmful to your liver in combination with alcohol. Zofran is an amazing prescription drug for hangover nausea if you can get it. Last year VitaminDrip.com was offering hangover IV infusions around BPM, I would guess that, like the party IV services in Las Vegas, those probably have Zofran in them as well should you find yourself in a desperate enough situation requiring an IV. My sympathies.
► If you are buying fruits/vegetables, Microdyn/Bacdyn are rinses that can be purchased in Mexican supermarkets, or a Clorox rinse (google for info). Don’t eat raw vegetables that have not been washed in this manner, or peeled, cooked/fried, such as salad or taco toppings. I know you want to look good in swimwear but is not your time to diet, salads are out.
► Table condiments that have been sitting out in the heat all day such as hot sauce, pico de gallo, and guacamole can have high risk of E. coli bacteria, according to studies by scientists that apparently really like taco biology.
► Staying in a nice resort doesn’t guarantee employee hygiene or filtered water. Sorry.
► Antibiotics- antibiotics likely won’t do anything for food poisoning, which is generally caused by bacterial or viral toxins rather than infection. Traveller’s diarrhea can be either bacterial or viral. If it’s viral, like rotovirus, antibiotics won’t help; you’re screwed. But if it’s bacterial, antibiotics can decrease the duration of diarrhea. Mexican pharmacies sell antibiotics without a prescription (among other things… you know what I’m talking about), and farmacias are ubiquitous on 5th avenue. Commonly used effective treatments are: azithromycin 1000 mg, one single dose; or ciprofloxacin 500 mg twice daily for 2 days.
► According to the Infectious Diseases Society of America, 2 bismuth subsalicylate (pepto bismol) tablets 4 times daily with meals can be effective in preventing traveller’s diarrhea. That’s a lot of fucking pepto bismol though, I hope you like that pink-ass minty shit.
► Probiotics such as Lactobacillus or Saccharomyces may help prevent traveller’s diarrhea. Grab some on Amazon or at the drug store and start before arriving in Mexico.
► There is an oral vaccine against traveller’s diarrhea called Dukoral, but it is not available in the US, so you’re shit out of luck (no pun intended! ha!) if you live in the states. It’s available over the counter in Canada, not sure about other countries or Mexico.
► If you get traveller’s diarrhea, be sure to stay hydrated. Gatorade or pedialyte can help. An anti-diarrhea medicine such as Immodium (loperamide) can save your ass (ha! I did it again!) if you are going to be a warrior and party through it, as I did last year. Users of stimulant party aids may also find loperamide useful to decrease bathroom frequency.
► Speaking of stimulants, you should not use illegal drugs and blah blah blah. But if you were, hypothetically, do not snort any type of powder using rolled-up pesos, or ANY country’s currency. Ever. Money is absolutely one of the dirtiest items on the planet, handled by hundreds of thousands of people of the lifetime of the bill, and there are numerous studies backing this up. People have contracted hepatitis and other infections from insufflation of drugs in this manner. Go into any bar or restaurant and grab a handful of drinking straws and cut them, but for fuck’s sake don’t use money.
► Speaking of illegal drugs you should definitely not be using, hypothetically if you were, you should buy test kits online prior to arriving and be sure to test anything you intend on consuming.
► Staying in a hostel? I’m so sorry. Hostels are filthy. Wear flip-flops in the shower, disinfect whatever you can if possible. Hand sanitizer.
► Kool Beach is out this year, but the new Blue Parrot has a pool. You can catch a “bug” from public pools. I will adamantly tell you all about dangerous pool microbiology, but at some point I will likely get drunk and end up in one. Do as I say, not as I do.
► It’s a crapshoot (ha!) as to whether or not you’ll be able to find the OTC and rx drugs you are used to in Mexican pharmacies. I recommend bringing whatever you may need with you to be on the safe side. They also may sell drugs that are not necessarily FDA approved, so if you aren’t sure what it is, google it before taking it.
► The dreaded BPM cough- a mysterious respiratory infection that is basically the worst cold you ever had in your life, multiplied by 10. Avoiding crowded dancefloors and planes is going to be impossible, using hand sanitizer may help. Bring your own cough suppressants to be safe. Mexico has lidocaine cough drops which are awesome for sore throat, which they don’t have in the states. Again, if you are drinking, avoid cough medicines with acetaminophen/paracetamol.
► Some wishy-washy studies suggest very high doses of vitamin C (Emergen-C, Airborne) may be helpful in the prevention of catching colds in crowded places, along with zinc (Zicam), and echinacea for treating new colds. Data backing up effectiveness is lacking, but if you have a bunch of spare money to blow, go for it.
► Being up to date on flu shots and other vaccines is always a good idea, especially when traveling. In countries where mass vaccination is not the norm, herd immunity no longer applies, and unvaccinated people are no longer protected by those who are. Stop being an immunity mooch.
► Get the meningitis vaccine if you don’t already have it, especially if staying in a hostel. Meningitis is an infection of the covering of the brain, it’s serious shit.
Got any more BPM travel tips? Comment below.
Disclaimer: I am a medical professional, but I am not your doctor, so discuss this shit with your own doctor if in doubt of whether you should be licking doorknobs and eating raw oysters and whatnot. I’m going to go ahead and say this is for “entertainment purposes” only to cover my own ass (I did it again! Butt jokes!).
► Oh yeah, use a condom. Seriously!