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Travel Tips

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It is always important to take care of your health, whether you are home or away but there are some additional concerns which are important to keep in mind when you are traveling.

Common Troubles while Traveling

Three of the most common health problems that you may experience when traveling are jet lag, altitude sickness and diarrhoea. When you fly across time zones, your internal body clock gets changed, resulting in a condition known as jet lag. Jet lag may cause some symptoms that are bummers on a fun trip, including stomach upset, insomnia and tiredness.

There are few things you can do to combat jet lag; for example, if you are traveling from west to east, you should stay out of the sun until the day after your arrival. If you are flying from east to west, go for a brisk walk as soon as possible after you arrive.

Safe Eating & Drinking

So what food is safe to eat? Any food that has been boiled is generally safe. Fruits and vegetables should be peeled off before eating. Avoid eating uncooked or undercooked meat or meat that is not cooked just prior to serving.

You have probably heard that you shouldn't drink the water in some countries overseas but do you know why? Water supplies in many developing countries are not treated in the same way as water supplies in developed countries. Various bacteria, viruses and parasites are commonly found in the water. Many experts suggest you drink only bottled water when traveling. If you need to use tap water, you should boil it first or purify it with an iodine tablet. Even if you're brushing your teeth, rinsing contact lenses, drinking a small glass of water to wash down pills or adding ice to your drink, first take precautions to ensure that the water is safe.

You can take it with you

When you're packing, you'll want to include any medications and other medical supplies you use on a daily basis because they may be hard to find in another country if you run out. Even if you can find them, there's a good chance the formulations will be stronger or weaker than the ones you're used to. These may include any prescriptions you already take, such as inhalers, allergy medication, insulin as well as contact lens cleaners and vitamins. Packing an over-the-counter pain medication like Acetaminophen and diarrhea medication is also a good idea. It is a good idea to pack some over-the-counter allergy medication even if you don't take it at home. People sometimes unexpectedly develop allergic reactions to the pollens and other allergens found in a new environment. Those with asthma or other allergies can unexpectedly react to these new substances.

Write it all down

Even if you watch what you eat and drink and get enough rest while you're traveling, you may still get sick. But you'll probably be able to find competent medical care. The key is to know where to go. Most travel guides suggest you go to a hospital where English is spoken or USA trained doctors can be found. For this reason, it is a good idea to always carry a written copy of your medical history with you.

Having such important information available in one place can help healthcare workers make appropriate decisions and you won't have to worry about forgetting important information at a time when you're likely to be upset and not thinking clearly.

Before you leave your home, create a medical history form that includes the following information:

  • Your name, address and phone number
  • Your blood group
  • Immunization status
  • Your doctor's name, address and office telephone number as well as emergency phone numbers
  • The name, address and phone number of your health insurance carrier including your policy number
  • A list of any ongoing health problems such as heart disease, diabetes or AIDS
  • A list of current medications you are taking and pharmacy name and phone number
  • A list of allergies to medications, food, insects and animals
  • A prescription for glasses or contact lenses
  • The name, address and phone number of a relative other than your parent

It also helps if you have some basic emergency medical knowledge, not only for yourself but for helping others you may be traveling with. A great way to prepare for your trip is to take a first aid or basic life support course before you go; if you're traveling with a group, you should know where the first aid kit is and what's in it.