Take the time to plan for healthy travel

By Dr. David Rideout

The busy summer travel season is just a few short months away, and many of you have spent some time and energy in making sure that all the details of your trip have been thoroughly planned.

Whether you are planning a vacation domestically or abroad, part of the planning should include ensuring your good health while away from home.

It is always a good idea to see a physician four to six weeks before your trip. This visit can include a general assessment of your physical condition, so that you can plan your itinerary around any physical limitations.

It also should include a review of routine vaccines such as measles, mumps, rubella, varicella and the seasonal flu to ensure that they are up to date. These vaccines are important especially when traveling abroad, as these diseases are more common in areas outside the United States. You might even consider getting a tetanus booster before you travel.

If you are traveling abroad to an exotic destination — in particular Africa, South America or another remote destination — it is particularly important to ensure that you have specific vaccines for illnesses that are prevalent in those countries.

These vaccines might include hepatitis A and B, typhoid, polio, yellow fever and meningitis. You may also need a prescription for antimalarial pills to take before, during or after your trip. The (Centers for Disease Control and prevention) CDC has put together a helpful guide for needed vaccines and medications by country (wwwnc.cdc.gov.travel).

Besides the necessary vaccines, you can review your itinerary with your physician and he or she can prescribe medicines for the treatment of altitude/motion sickness and anti-diarrheal medications. Your doctor should take the time to review your current medications, and ensure that your prescriptions are up to date.

It is always a good idea to check with your health insurance provider to see if you are covered for care abroad. If the insurance company does not cover this, than you should consider purchasing travel health insurance for your trip.

Helpful tips:

•Make sure that you pack all of your medications and bring extra on your trip. It can be difficult to get medicines in other countries.

•It is a good idea to carry identifying information about your health status such as your blood type, medications and allergies. Identifying these in the local language is beneficial. This could be in the form of a card carried in your wallet.

•Wear a MedicAlert bracelet if you have a serious medical condition.

Although thinking ahead about travel health may not be as fun as planning the events and sites for your travels, this planning is essential to ensure that you stay healthy to enjoy every minute of your trip.

Dr. David Rideout is the lead physician at Doctors Express in the Saugus office, one of 10 Eastern Mass offices, offering seven-day walk-in urgent medical care. He can be reached at 781-233-1000. Visit their website, www.DoctorsExpress.com. Archives of articles from previous issues can be read at www.fiftyplusadvocate.com


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