In an earlier post I already shared a few Istanbul health tips to consider before you leave. In this post I want to give you some advice on how you can remain in great shape during your stay in Istanbul. I’ll also answer another concern among tourists: can I brush my teeth (or even drink) tap water?
Can I Drink Water From the Tap?
Technically, these days you could but I still wouldn’t recommend it. The water is clean, but doesn’t taste that well as a result of the filtering or cleaning process. So, for drinking purposes I would stick to bottled water which is cheap and sold on every street corner. But unlike countries such as Egypt, it’s perfectly safe to brush your teeth or cook food with tap water. Ice-cubes served in drinks are also safe to consume, because they’re made from mineral water.
Istanbul Food Can Be Oily and Spicy
Chances are that the food you’ll eat in Istanbul is a tad more spicy and/or oily than what you’re used to at home. Together with the high summer temperatures (sometimes 35+) this occasionally results in the number one inconvenience a minority of the tourists suffer from while visiting Istanbul: diarrhea.
You can diminish the chances of suffering from diarrhea by making sure your intestines are in top shape prior to your departure. A few pills of Ercefuryl usually is all it takes. If you have sensitive intestines, avoid too greasy and/or spicy food during your stay, dairy products and some of Istanbul’s street food. You also want to make sure that your (minced) meat is cooked thoroughly.
If you do get diarrhea, a combination of the medicines Ercefuryl (to restore the intestine flora) and Immodium (to stop excessive visits to the bathroom) should solve the inconvenience in a day or two. Don’t forget to read the respective medicines’ instructions carefully before taking them! Also, drink a lot of water (to prevent dehydration) and stick to (toasted) bread and yoghurt for the time being. Another trick that may help with cramps is a glass of flat coke (room temperature).
Avoid Petting Street Cats and Dogs
Istanbul has plenty of street cats and dogs, both species nicely dividing the available space among each other. These animals won’t bother you at all; they may not even notice you. I advice you not to pet them, although some look really cute and sweet. The municipality is putting in huge efforts to vaccinate them (look for a tag in their ear), but some of them may still be a carrier of rabies. In the extremely rare case you do get bitten by a dog or scratched by a cat, have a doctor or pharmacist examine the wound.