It’s important to practice certain habits daily—like good hand-washing—to
maintain an optimum level of health. And it’s even more important
when traveling. Pulse recently spoke with
F. Lee Reitler, MD, MBA,
Torrance Memorial Physician Network, regarding travel health and what you can do to get ready for your trip
and to prevent problems once en route.
Dr. Reitler advises that if you’re traveling domestically, make sure
you’re up-to-date with the recommended vaccinations for your age
as advised by your physician. If you’re going to a foreign country,
be sure to visit the
CDC’s (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) travel health website prior to your trip, as some immunizations need to be started months in
advance. On their site, you can click on your destination country to find
out what additional vaccines and/ or prophylactic medications are needed
for that locale.
If you call the South Bay Family Medical Group to schedule an appointment,
it’s important to mention the vaccine(s) you need, as sometimes
they need to be ordered. Dr. Reitler recommends calling a minimum of 48
hours in advance to allow for procurement of special vaccines. He also
states that getting an annual flu shot is important for everyone.
Contact Your Doctor
Dr. Reitler recommends consulting with your physician before your trip
for a “case by case discussion” regarding the possibility
of additional needs specific for you and your destination, such as prophylactic
medication for malaria prevention; antibiotics for traveler’s diarrhea,
urinary tract infections or upper respiratory infections; Imodium for
diarrhea, Pepto-Bismol for nausea/vomiting, Tamiflu for viral protection
(if your destination is in the midst of a viral epidemic), sleeping pills
or anti-anxiety medication.
Dr. Reitler states that all prescription medications should be carried
separately and in their original containers from the pharmacy with the
labels intact, clearly showing the prescribing physician and medication
names. This can help prevent problems when going through security checkpoints.
Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) Prevention
Dr. Reitler advises you get up and walk every two hours (whether you’re
flying, driving or riding a train). He states, “Baby aspirin can
help a little to prevent DVT.” If you have a history of DVT, he
also recommends contacting your physician prior to travel to see if he
or she wants you to receive Lovenox injections before your trip.
The best strategy to lessen the effects of jet lag are to do the following
three things: stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water; don’t drink
alcohol; and get on the local time zone as soon as you arrive.
Dr. Reitler advises to avoid touching your mouth, nose and eyes if you’ve
not been able to wash your hands. Once you find a sink, remember to wash
your hands well with soap, water and plenty of friction to reduce your
exposure to illnesscausing microbes.
Don’t forget to use sunscreen to prevent sunburns and insect repellent
to prevent insect bites.