Traveling Abroad? Make Sure Plans Include Trip to the Doctor
you’re one of the millions of Americans who will travel abroad
this summer, make sure your plans include a trip to the doctor, said
Dr. H. Thomas Johnson, a Saint Louis University family physician.
Johnson says, travelers should make an appointment six months before
traveling to the most exotic locations because some vaccines, such as
hepatitis A and B, require six months to receive both the first dose
However, if you do not have six months, Johnson still recommends getting the first vaccine as it will provide some protection.
visiting more mainstream destinations, such as the tourist areas of
Mexico, Johnson still recommends checking in with your doctor.
can tell you about any necessary precautions or recommended vaccines,"
explained Johnson, who is an expert in travel medicine. "He or she can
also prescribe important medications, such as an antibiotic to bring
with you in case you develop traveler’s diarrhea or a patch to
prevent sea sickness."
The key to successful travel, Johnson says, is planning ahead. He recommends these five tips for a healthy and safe vacation.
Make sure to bring plenty of your regular medications, both prescribed
and over-the-counter, in your carry-on luggage. However, controlled
substances must be in their original pharmacy container and
over-the-counter liquid medications must meet the Transportation
Security Administration guidelines, which require that liquids be in
three ounce or smaller containers and fit in one quart-size clear
plastic bag. In addition to your regular medications, don’t
forget the basics: pain relievers, medicine for nausea and heart burn,
bandages, antibacterial ointment and antibacterial hand wipes.
Enjoy the sun, safely:
Nothing ruins a vacation like getting a sun burn on the first day.
Using asunscreen with a minimum of a 30 SPF is especially important
when visiting tropical destinations. However, even if you will not be
tanning on a beach, you can still get burnt while sight-seeing or
driving in a car, so make sure to apply sunscreen every day.
Keep the bugs away:
Bug spray with 30 to 50 percent DEET is especially important if you are
traveling to places where malaria is present. In addition, if you will
be sleeping outdoors or in huts, bring a mosquito net.
Be cautious about what you eat and drink:
Anyone traveling to Mexico has heard the warning to not drink the
water. But Johnson cautions that just avoiding the water is not enough.
In addition to water and ice, the general rule of thumb is if
it’s not pealed, boiled or cooked, avoid it. This includes fresh
vegetables and fruits, as well as undercooked meats and raw fish. Be
particularly careful when purchasing food and drinks from street
vendors and make sure the seal is not broken on bottled water.
Bring your personal health information:
Think of it as insurance – you hope you don’t need it, but
if something goes wrong, it can be a real life-saver. Having medical
information, such as all prescription and over-the-counter medications
you are currently taking, chronic conditions and vaccine information,
will help the physician treating you if you have a medical emergency.
Store the information in your suitcase, on a USB drive or on a small
card in your wallet, but make sure someone knows where the information
is stored in case you are unconscious.
in 1836, Saint Louis University School of Medicine has the distinction
of awarding the first medical degree west of the Mississippi River. The
school educates physicians and biomedical scientists, conducts medical
research, and provides health care on a local, national and
international level. Research at the school seeks new cures and
treatments in five key areas: cancer, liver disease, heart/lung
disease, aging and brain disease, and infectious disease.
For more information on the Saint Louis University School of Medicine, visit www.medschool.slu.edu.