Vacation season can bring us joy and excitement with extra shopping trips,
adventure planning and for many, travel. Whether you’re traveling
within the U.S. or using vacation days to explore the world, ensuring
a healthy, safe trip is essential to enjoying a getaway.
Pulse recently spoke with Eduardo Anorga, MD, a family practice physician who
is an experienced travel medicine consultant with Torrance Memorial Physician
Network, about ways you can help prevent illnesses and injuries when you travel.
“The most important thing to do if you’re traveling out of
the country is to get travel insurance that includes emergency medical
coverage,” Dr. Anorga advises.
A comprehensive emergency medical insurance plan for travel should include
coverage for an air ambulance. Without it, this service can cost as much
as $50,000. Another feature to look for in a plan is one based in the
U.S. that includes emergency medical coverage for physician visits, medications,
medical equipment and hospitalizations where you are going. “A good
plan will have relationships with local health care providers around the
world,” says Dr. Anorga. Other important tips to consider from Dr.
Anorga to help you stay well:
MEDICATIONS: Carry all of your medications onboard with you. Don’t ever pack
them in luggage in case it gets lost.
VACCINATIONS: If you’re traveling outside the U.S., check the CDC (Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention) travel health website at:
http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel to research your destination regarding local health alerts and vaccination
information. Some locations may require vaccinations such as, but not
limited to, typhoid, yellow fever and hepatitis A. Some destinations might
ask to see a record of your vaccinations before they allow you into their
country, so keep documentation with you. If you don’t have documentation,
Dr. Anorga warns you may be forced to go home or could be referred by
an unethical staffer to a local provider—and be charged an exorbitant
amount of money for it.
MOSQUITO PROTECTION: With the Zika, Dengue and West Nile Virus becom- ing more pervasive,
it’s important to prevent mosquito bites. This can be achieved by
wearing long sleeves and pants, wearing shoes or boots that cover the
feet, using permethrin to spray on clothing and applying a lemon eucalyptus-based
product or DEET on areas of exposed skin.
DRINKING WATER: While water safety has improved in foreign countries, Dr. Anorga advises,
“Don’t drink local water. This includes not only tap water,
but also ice and locally bottled beverages.”
SWIMMING WATER: “Be aware of the risks of swimming in local fresh water that is
considered still water. This includes rivers, lakes and waterfalls. In
some areas these waters are contaminated with disease-causing parasites
like giardia, leishmaniasis and onchocerciasis, also known as river blindness,”
warns Dr. Anorga. Also remember that many swimming pools and hot tubs
can have contaminated water that could make you sick. Water can look clean
but not be clean at all
ACCIDENT PREVENTION: Motor scooters, ATVs and other fast-paced, motorized vehicles can place
you at risk for injuries, due to being in unfamiliar areas and on rough
terrain. Be aware of your surroundings and use the appropriate safety
equipment at all times. “Motor scooters and mosquitoes are two of
the biggest risks for travelers,” says Dr. Anorga.
“Keep your immune system healthy by get- ting your sleep and being
well-rested before and during your trip,” he adds. You’ll
also want to carry hand sanitizer for those times you don’t have
access to soap and water to clean your hands. On long flights, remember
to get up and walk every two hours to help prevent deep vein thrombosis (DVT).
Dr. Anorga advises you see your doctor or visit a travel medicine clinic
or specialist before any trip to receive personalized guidance on vaccines
and medications you may need and to address any other health and safety
concerns you might have.