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, senior partner of the South Bay Family Medical Group, 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.