Pharmacist advice on how to stay healthy at this year’s music festivals


Emersons Green NHS Treatment Centre’s pharmacist is advising festival goers to think before they pack their bags, to avoid health pitfalls and ensure that their summer of fun doesn’t turn from a bang into a whimper.

Cathy Cooke, a Fellow of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, said: “Festivals are great fun and our region has a growing number attended by people of all ages. Everyone wants to have fun, and, with a bit of planning, everyone can. But people should think about the fact that a lack of planning now can lead to medical problems and a miserable time away.”

Cathy’s top tips

  • Be safe in the sun: wearing high factor suntan lotion and a hat are musts. Heat exhaustion and heatstroke can be very serious and may need medical attention. Symptoms can include headache, dizziness, nausea, muscle cramps, fast breathing or pulse, a feverish temperature or intense thirst. Many people do not realise that sun damage can re-emerge 10 or 20 years later as skin cancer, so slap on the lotion regularly and make sure you apply it on any exposed skin, including ears and bald spots.
  • Think hydration: This is especially important in hot weather when dehydration can set in before you realise it.  Take a reusable water bottle to fill up from the drinking water taps on site and avoid drinking alcohol to excess, as this will make any dehydration significantly worse.
  • Appropriate clothing: People don’t always check the weather forecast and setting out on a warm summer’s day does not guarantee that the next three days will remain the same. Pack waterproofs and some warm clothing as sunny hot days often mean chilly nights
  • Be kind to your feet: Wellies or sturdy boots are a must. Thanks to the great British summer, fields are often wet and muddy. Moving between stages and your tent, you can walk surprisingly long distances, especially at bigger festivals. Don’t forget to bring footwear that is comfortable and, just in case of blisters, don’t forget to pack some plasters!
  • And be kind to your ears: We all go for the music, but prolonged exposure to high volume noise can cause hearing damage, especially in little ones, so headphones for children can be a good idea.

Cathy said: “Festival goers should think ‘safe sex’ and pack some condoms in their bags. The last memory you want from your festival experience is a sexually transmitted infection. Also avoid too much alcohol and avoid drugs, as these can lead to bad decisions and health problems down the line.”

Cathy’s list of things not to leave home without:

  • Your medical information (medical alert bracelets and cards) and any prescription medication. Take just the amount of medication you need in a labelled box and check the festival’s website for their meds policy as some have quite strict rules.
  • An anti-diarrhoea medication and oral rehydration powders. Upset stomachs are horrible at the best of times and no one wants to experience them while facing queues for the portable toilets.
  • An insect repellent to fend off the midges, especially festivals with lakes and rivers nearby.
  • Wet wipes are indispensable and often the closest thing you may get to having a wash.  Alcohol gel for hands is a great option, especially when the portable toilets are out of soap.
  • A torch is very useful for when you are walking back to your tent in the dark and may save you from trip, slips and sprains.