Health precautions for senior citizens undertaking Hajj pilgrimage

We have received numerous inquiries from our patients regarding the precautions to be taken during the Hajj pilgrimage
"Hajj usually is a lifetime opportunity for the pilgrims to wipe clean past sins and start afresh." [Representational Image]
"Hajj usually is a lifetime opportunity for the pilgrims to wipe clean past sins and start afresh." [Representational Image]File

Undertaking the Haj pilgrimage is a significant spiritual journey, and it requires careful planning and preparation, especially for senior citizens from Kashmir who may have pre-existing health conditions.

Preparing for the Hajj pilgrimage during the peak of the summer season requires taking certain precautions to ensure your well-being throughout the journey.

We have received numerous inquiries from our patients regarding the precautions to be taken during the Hajj pilgrimage. This article aims to provide guidance on what senior citizens and even younger people should do before proceeding to Haj and the precautions they should take during the pilgrimage.

Before Proceeding to Hajj:

1. Quit SMOKING: It is strongly advised for smokers to quit smoking before embarking on the Haj pilgrimage due to its harmful effects. Smoking not only poses health risks but also detracts from the true essence of Haj.

2. Consultation with a Healthcare Professional: Prior to embarking on the pilgrimage, it is crucial for senior citizens to schedule a comprehensive medical check-up with their healthcare provider, preferably a specialist familiar with their medical history. This will help assess their overall health status and ensure they are fit for the journey.

3. Medication Review: Review all medications with your healthcare provider well in advance. Ensure ample supply of prescribed medications for the entire duration of the Haj pilgrimage, including any extra medication that may be needed due to the prolonged period away from home. Consider carrying a detailed list of medications, including salt/generic names, dosages, and frequency, in case of any medical emergencies.

4. Vaccinations: Stay updated on essential vaccinations recommended for travel, by the Directorate of Health Kashmir.

5. Acclimatisation: Senior citizens should gradually acclimate themselves to the warmer weather conditions they are likely to encounter during the Hajj pilgrimage. Spending time outdoors in the weeks leading up to the journey can help the body adjust to the heat and reduce the risk of heat-related illnesses.

6. Build physical stamina: Engage in regular physical exercise to build your stamina. Walking and light aerobic exercises can help prepare your body for the physical demands of the pilgrimage.

7. Stay hydrated: Start hydrating well in advance of your trip. Increase your fluid intake and consume sufficient water, juices, and electrolyte-rich beverages to maintain hydration levels.

8. Pack appropriate clothing: Pack loose, lightweight, and breathable clothing that covers your body adequately to protect against the sun’s rays. Additionally, bring a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen for added protection.

9. Avoid Last-Minute Packing: Complete your packing two days before departure from Srinagar. Last-minute packing is more likely to result in forgetting to take important items. Create a checklist of medicines and other essentials you need to bring and pack accordingly.

During Travel:

1. Stay Hydrated: Drink plenty of water throughout the journey to stay hydrated, especially during long flights. Avoid excessive intake of caffeinated and sugary beverages as they can contribute to dehydration.

2. Dress Comfortably & Supportive Footwear: Wear loose-fitting and breathable clothing that allows for ease of movement and helps regulate body temperature. Choose comfortable and well-fitting shoes that provide proper support for walking long distances. This is particularly important during layovers and transit periods.

3. Medication Accessibility: Keep your necessary medications easily accessible in your carry-on bag. It’s advisable to carry a sufficient supply of medications to last the entire duration of the journey, including any potential delays. It is desirable to keep a portion of these medicines in your hand bag also and the larger portion in the checked in bag. It is also good to carry the prescription of your treating doctor with you

4. Sanitisation and Hand Hygiene: Carry hand sanitizers and use them frequently, especially before meals and after using public facilities.

5. Rest and Sleep: Take advantage of layovers and travel breaks to rest and get sufficient sleep. Utilise airport lounges or designated rest areas to relax and recharge during long transit periods.

6. Movement and Exercise: Engage in light exercises and stretching during the journey to improve circulation and prevent stiffness. Simple movements like walking around the cabin or doing seated exercises can help reduce the risk of blood clots and promote overall well-being.

7. Seek Assistance: If you require any assistance or have specific mobility needs, inform the airline or airport staff in advance to ensure a smooth travel experience. Many airports provide special services for elderly and disabled passengers.

8. Stay Updated: Keep yourself informed about any travel advisories or health-related alerts issued by the authorities. Stay updated on COVID-19 guidelines and protocols and follow them diligently throughout the journey.

During Hajj:

1. Firstly: Firstly, upon reaching your designated place, inquire and familiarize yourself with the location of the nearest doctor or dispensary. Knowing the nearest medical facilities will ensure prompt access to medical assistance if needed during your stay.

2. Time Management: Prioritise and manage your time effectively to avoid excessive strain. For instance, optimise your schedule to minimise the back-and-forth trips between the Haram and your hotel for each prayer. Instead, consider planning your time in a way that reduces the need for multiple visits to the Haram throughout the day. After having prayed Fajr, you can go back to your hotel. Then one approach is to carry some dry food with you and aim to reach the Haram before Zuhr prayer after having your lunch. Remain at the Haram until Asr prayer. This way, you can consolidate your time and avoid unnecessary travel. After Maghrib prayer, stay at the Haram until Isha prayer. By strategically managing your time, you can maximise your presence at the Haram during key prayer times and minimise travel-related fatigue and sun exposure. Remember to plan your meals and rest periods accordingly to maintain your energy levels throughout the day.

3. Women pilgrims: You should dress conservatively in long, loose clothing and cover hair with a hijab rather than a loose scarf.

4. Stay hydrated: Continuously drink water and fluids to stay hydrated. Avoid excessive intake of caffeinated or sugary beverages as they can lead to dehydration.

5. Sun Protection: Protect yourself from the sun’s harmful rays by wearing lightweight, loose-fitting clothing that covers most of your body. Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a high sun protection factor (SPF) and reapply it frequently. Wear a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses to shield yourself from direct sunlight.

6. Rest, Shade and Sleep: Take regular breaks to rest and seek shade whenever possible. When outdoors, try to stay in shaded areas as much as possible to avoid direct exposure to the sun. Use an umbrella. Proper sleep is highly recommended.

7. Pace yourself: Take the pilgrimage at a comfortable pace, especially during the physically demanding rituals. Rest when needed, listen to your body, and don’t push yourself beyond your limits.

8. Medication Management: Adhere strictly to your prescribed medication regimen. Ensure that medications are stored properly, away from extreme heat and direct sunlight. If any adjustments or modifications to the medication schedule are required, consult a healthcare professional before making any changes.

9. Personal Hygiene: Maintain good personal hygiene throughout the journey. Wash your hands frequently with soap and water or use hand sanitizers when handwashing facilities are not readily available. This practice can help prevent the spread of infections. Always use a face mask while performing the rituals and walking. You are going to be mixing with pilgrims from several countries and some may be carrying viral infections like influenza and other infections.

10. Use cooling measures: Utilize cooling methods like wet towels or misting fans to help regulate body temperature during hot weather. Taking regular cool showers can also be beneficial.

11. Use the Washroom: Prioritise performing ablution and using the restroom whenever you come across one during your journey. Avoid waiting until you urgently need to use the washroom, as delays may lead to difficulty reaching one in time and potentially cause urinary issues.

12. Blood Glucose and Blood Pressure Monitoring: Regularly monitor your blood glucose and blood pressure levels to stay aware of any potential fluctuations.

Precautions and Awareness:

1. Heatstroke awareness: Be aware of the symptoms of heatstroke, such as dizziness, confusion, rapid heartbeat, nausea, and cessation of sweating. If you or someone around you experiences these symptoms, seek immediate medical attention.

2. Awareness of Symptoms of Cardiac distress: Be aware of any signs or symptoms of cardiac distress, such as chest pain, shortness of breath, dizziness, or palpitations. If you experience any concerning symptoms, seek medical attention promptly.

3. Avoid overcrowded areas: Due to the risk of infectious diseases, it’s best to avoid overcrowded places as much as possible. Maintain good hand hygiene by washing your hands frequently or using hand sanitizers.

4. Hypoglycemia Awareness: Common symptoms of hypoglycemia include feeling shaky, lightheaded, dizzy, confused, irritable, or anxious. Other signs may include sweating, rapid heartbeat, headache, blurred vision, and weakness. It’s important to be familiar with these symptoms to identify and address hypoglycemia promptly by consuming Glucose.

5. Follow dietary restrictions and carry prescribed medicines that are required during the day: Adhere to any dietary restrictions or recommendations given by your doctor. Ensure you consume well-cooked food, avoid consuming street food, and carry necessary medications if you have any pre-existing conditions.

6. Emergency Plan: Create an emergency plan in case of any cardiovascular issues. Carry a list of emergency contact numbers, including local healthcare facilities and your personal healthcare provider. Share this information with a travel companion or group leader.

7. Personal Identity card stating your medical problems: In case you get a problem or lose consciousness this is very useful for the fellow passengers to manage the problem and give it to the medical personnel.

What to Avoid during Hajj:

1. Overexertion: Avoid overexerting yourself, especially during the physically demanding rituals. Pace yourself and rest when necessary to prevent exhaustion and potential health issues.

2. Direct sunlight exposure: Try to minimise direct exposure to sunlight, especially during peak hours. Seek shade whenever possible and use protective measures such as hats, sunglasses, and sunscreen.

3. Dehydration: Avoid dehydration by drinking plenty of fluids throughout the day. Don’t wait until you feel thirsty to drink water, as it’s a sign that your body is already dehydrated.

4. Unhealthy food choices: Be mindful of your food choices and try to consume nutritious meals. Avoid excessive intake of fatty, spicy, and processed foods that may cause digestive issues or discomfort.

List of some important medicines and medical equipments to be taken along:

The following list is in addition to the routine medication.

1. GLUCOSE TABLETS should be in the pocket of a diabetic always.

2. Glucometer, its battery and strips (For Diabetic)

3. Digital BP Apparatus (For Hypertensive)

4. Digital thermometer

5. Pulseoximeter

6. Tab. Paracetamol 650/500 (Pain and Fever)

7. Antacid tablets

8. Anti allergic tablets

9. Cough Syrup

10. Band Aids

11. Pain relieving Ointments/Pain Killer spray.

12. Talk to your doctor about carrying simple antibiotics for respiratory infections, abdominal infections and urinary infections.


Hajj usually is a lifetime opportunity for the pilgrims to wipe clean past sins and start afresh. It is a physically demanding journey and one has to do it with patience, self-restraint and endurance.

Good health is the key for the pilgrims and everything needs to be done so that you enjoy the experience and do not become a burden on your partners and accompanying group. The pilgrimage should carry fond memories for years to come.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author.

The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK 

Related Stories

No stories found.
Greater Kashmir