Preparation for any travel should include consideration of the health risk involved. In many countries, standards of safety, hygiene and medical care may be equal to, if not better, than your home country. But that might not be the case everywhere. Travelers should study the conditions in each country planned to visit. You should assess the risk of disease and the steps necessary to prevent illness and injury. As your departure date draws near, assess your own health. If it has changed, it may be necessary to delay your departure. Use these travel health tips to travel safely.
Travel Health Tips Checklist
Take out health insurance. Even if your health insurance covers you outside your home country, it may not cover medical evacuation, which could cost more than $50,000.
Check that your vaccines are up-to-date. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control website
(http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/list/) has a country-by-country listing of necessa
ry vaccines or medication. If you need prescription medication, visit your health care provider or a travel specialty clinic, at least six weeks before departure. Any prescribed anti-malaria medication
must start before your departure and continue after your return. Malaria is a common and serious infection in many tropical and subtropical countries, can be fatal, and no vaccine is available. When travelling to known areas where malaria occurs, use insect repellent if out after dark.
If you have suffered motion sickness in the past, consider a prescription for the Transdermal Scopolamine patch. Discuss this with your health care provider.
The CDC has an excellent checklist for medical supplies you should take with you (http://1.usa.gov/1D2t4hd). Be sure that any prescription medicines are in your carry on bag, not in your checked luggage.
Deep Vein Thrombosis
Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) is a blood clot, most often in a leg vein, and form when you are inactive (i. e., during a long flight). Symptoms may include swelling of the affected leg, a warm feel or a red look. Prop your leg up when possible, take walks in the cabin, and wear compression socks. These measures may help reduce the pain and swelling.
Sun Exposure – High altitude increases how much ultraviolet radiation reaches the skin. Reflection off the sea, sand and snow does as well. Sunburn responds well to cool soaks and moisturizers, and sunglasses protect your eyes from cataracts and glare conjunctivitis.
Allergic Drug Reactions – Skin eruptions are the most often observed adverse drug reactions.
Bites and Stings – Insect bites by mosquitos, bed bugs, fleas and lice are the most common skin complaints. Effective treatments include drying and anesthetic lotion. Using an insect repellent containing DEET is the most effective counter measure.
Conjunctivitis – Many times, this infection causes an oozing discharge and possibly red eye or a gritty feel to the effected eye. This condition responds well to antibiotic eye drops such as chloramphenol.
Contact Lenses – Always bring an up-to-date pair of eyeglasses, extra contacts, case and wetting fluid. If you experience discomfort, do not use your contacts for 24 hours. Change your case and wetting fluid. Keep blinking to renew the tear film under the lens.
Sunlight – Strong sunlight can damage the surface of the eyes by UV rays. Wear sunglasses, a sun hat or ski goggles.
Headaches, Colds, Fever and Sore Throat
Fever, chills, rigors, headache and severe muscle aches. If you suffer these symptoms more than one week following travel in mosquito exposure areas, seek medical help. You should have a blood test for malaria or dengue fever.
Earache (with no discharge) – Possibly an inflammation of the middle ear. Usually responds to antibiotics.
Fever, muscle aches, and dark colored urine – Possible Hepatitis A or B. Contaminated food or water are potential causes for both, and have 21-day incubation periods. Seek medical help as soon as possible.
Headache – If you cannot touch your chin to your chest, seek medical help to rule out meningitis. If you have no neck rigidity, then treat with your favorite headache remedy.
Cough (with yellow sputum, chest pain when coughing and fever) — Seek medical attention. Possible sign of pneumonia.
Sore Throat – If you have no fever or enlarged tonsils, treat with throat lozenge.
Abdominal Pain – If accompanied by vomiting, diarrhea, or constipation, seek medical attention as soon as possible.
Common Cold – Running nose, sneezing and associated body aches respond well to your favorite headache remedy.
Sinusitis – If pain can be prompted by tapping the forehead or cheeks, consult a doctor for antibiotic treatment.