- This is an excellent time to catch up on your routine vaccines. After all, who really wants to be sick instead of out enjoying the fun?
- Schedule vaccinations 4-6 weeks prior to departure because it takes time for vaccines to become effective.
- Children may need an accelerated schedule of MMR, Polio, & Meningitis in addition to their routine immunizations. Check with your pediatrician, travel health specialist, or the CDC
- Travel vaccines such as Typhoid, Rabies, Yellow Fever, and Japanese Encephalitis are available from your travel medicine specialist.
2. Do I need to take medicine when I travel?
- Of course you will want to take your regular medications; bring enough extra medication to allow for unplanned delays, etc. Border crossings are easier if you bring along a copy of the prescription for any medication you bring with you.
- Depending upon your destination, you may need to bring a short course of antibiotics to be able to treat yourself for traveler’s diarrhea.
- If you suffer frequent illnesses such as bladder infections, sinus infections, or yeast infections, you will want to ask your doctor whether you should bring a course of medication ‘just in case’ you suffer a recurrence while traveling.
- Some destinations require medications to prevent malaria. Check the CDC or consult with your travel medicine specialist It is very important that you follow the directions given for your anti-malaria medications, if you miss doses of medication you may become infected with this very serious illness.
- You will want to assemble and bring a small first aid kit to cover small emergencies. In addition to bandages, bring Benadryl, Acetaminophen, and Ibuprofen. Your doctor can help you select items to include in the kit.
3. How can I prevent blood clots while traveling?
- Most travelers are unaware of their risk for painful blood clots in their legs. These clots can break free and cause extremely dangerous or sometimes fatal pulmonary embolisms (clots in the blood vessels of the lungs).
- Ask your doctor about properly fitted anti-embolism stockings. These special stocking are recommended for anyone over age 40, on birth control, pregnant, smoking, or overweight who is traveling over 4 hours on an airplane, but especially for those on long-haul flights over 8 hours.
- Some travelers have increased susceptibility to blood clots. Those with previous clots, trauma, or a personal/family history of a clotting disorder will want to discuss the use of a small injection of medication to prevent clots prior to departure with their doctor.
4. What else can I do to prevent unfamiliar diseases?
- Simple measures such as preventing insect bites are very helpful. Use lotion with either 30% DEET or 20% Picardin. Apply according to package directions during the day and evening. Remember, if you don’t get bit, the insects won’t be able to pass along any nasty infections.
- Food and water precautions help prevent many gastrointestinal illnesses. Ask your doctor to review how to avoid food and water borne illnesses. Additionally, the CDC has a helpful guide to avoid tummy troubles.
- Choose lodging with screens on the windows or air conditioning.
- When relaxing on the beach wear shoes and use a towel or a chair to prevent infections with skin parasites.
- Different areas of the world have different common illnesses. Check with your doctor for advice concerning your travels. If unsure, or you need further advice, your travel medicine specialist is more than happy to help you learn about and prepare for unfamiliar illness.
5. What should I do if I have a chronic illness?
- If you have chronic illnesses such as diabetes, food allergies, heart trouble, breathing difficulties, immune problems or intestinal conditions you will want to check with your regular doctor and your travel medicine specialist to make sure your travel plans are compatible with your underlying health difficulties.
- It may takes some advanced planning, but your travel medicine specialist, working along with your regular doctors, will be able to help you prepare for your travels.
Join the conversation: How has your doctor helped you prepare for international travel?
Sarah Kohl, MD and the staff at TravelReadyMD are happy to help travelers in the Greater Pittsburgh area prepare for international travel.www.TravelReadyMD.com