Excitement is in the air as travel plans are being made for the upcoming holidays. With Christmas and New Year coming just around the corner, its a great time to visit a new place. However, with new destinations, there is a growing need to be prepared for unpredictable medical situations and challenges. There are a number of reasons one can get sick during travel, and it is not a pleasant feeling. Luckily there are some things you can do to prevent such mishaps. Here's a list of a few things you should do to be medically equipped for your next travel.
1) Get a medical check-up done before you travel
For many, this is a precautionary measure, but there are some people for who this is a requirement, i.e. for those who need to take a pre-travel checkup before taking a trip.
* Patients suffering from a chronic medical illness (heart disease, Diabetes, Stroke, Cancer, Asthma and Autoimmune disease)
* Patients who have undergone surgery recently
* Patients who have existing allergies
* Pediatric patients, especially infants and toddlers
* Pregnant women
* Patients who usually experience travel-related symptoms (jet lag, motion sickness and traveler's diarrhea)
* Individuals traveling to countries where there are country-specific health risks e.g. developing countries.
There are also some countries that warrant a physical checkup prior to the trip irrespective of how healthy the individual is. At the end of the check-up, the patient will be given the appropriate medications that may come in handy to treat symptoms that might be experienced during their journey. A patient will also be given the necessary vaccines or immunizations which may be mandatory for visa or immigration formalities.
2) Research your destination
This is necessary, especially if you or your loved one, who is traveling with you, tends to get sick or is in a higher age bracket. Don't assume that you cannot travel just because you are old or have health issues. The secret to a good travel experience is good research and proper planning. Booking a guided trip or a packaged tour will surely help you, as many tour operators specialize in accommodating the needs of the elderly and children. Learn more about your destination, like the local cuisine and the climatic conditions. Researching your destination will give you imperative information like what type of clothes to carry, the kind of food to avoid if you have allergies to a certain ingredient and whether the medicines you are taking are banned in that country.
3) Pack a medical kit
A medical kit is absolutely essential when traveling, especially if you or any member of your family is aged, disabled or are kids. Your medical kit should have all the emergency medication like medication for cough and cold, allergies, flu, travel sickness, paper bags for vomiting, bandages and gauzes in case of an injury, antiseptic wipes, sting treatment, thermometer, and any other medication that the doctor prescribes. This will be very useful while traveling with kids as they tend to get sick easily.
4) Keep your travel insurance
It is difficult to get healthcare in an unknown location when you are sick or injured. In some countries, medical expenses are very high like in the US. There are hospitals in other countries that may hold you, hostage until you pay the medical bills like Thailand, Mexico and Honduras. In times of emergency, travel insurance is very helpful. If you have travel insurance, make sure to keep it with you. If you are opting for travel insurance, there are lots of plans to choose from. So choose a plan that gives you the cover you need. It would also be beneficial to include a cover that allows being evacuated to a suitable hospital or medical evacuation coverage.
5) Other precautions
* Reduce deep vein thrombosis - Long flights involve sitting still for extended periods of time. This can cause the development of blood clots in the veins of the legs also known as deep vein thrombosis (DVT). Take precautions by consulting your doctor before flying, wearing loose clothing, keeping yourself hydrated, avoid smoking and drinking, avoid putting pressure on your legs like crossing them. It would also be helpful to perform leg exercises while seated.
* If you're not sure of the purity and quality of water, drink bottled water and keep it handy.
* Avoid food poisoning - Steer clear of peeled and uncovered fruits and vegetables, undercooked meats, seafood, food buffets, food from street vendors and unpasteurized dairy products.
* Use a specialist travel agent for travelers with disabilities. These travel agents provide services specific to such travelers such as a wheelchair, baby carriers, ramps on vehicles, etc.
The key to a happy, fun and worry-free vacation is a well-thought-out plan for the entire trip from the time you depart till you reach home. This, of course, includes taking the utmost care from the health point of view. No one wants to spoil their vacation by getting under the weather. Although these tips seem to be common knowledge, it is often overlooked. It is rightly said, Prevention is better than cure. While you do all this, dont forget to enjoy your vacation, even if you aren't in perfect health. Following these tips will ensure you are medically prepared for your next vacation.
With Inputs from
Dr. Vighnesh Y, M.D (Internal Medicine)
Consultant Physician, CallHealth