Stay Healthy When You Go Abroad
A vacation is supposed to be a time to relax, but you don’t want to turn a period of relaxation into a period of worry. This means taking care of yourself by investing in your health before you travel, as well as making sure that you keep healthy when you are abroad.
Before Your Flight
As a note, the information here is not a substitute for a doctor’s help. One of the first things that you should do before traveling with a health issue is see one. Not only do they know your health history better than anyone, but they are in a position to give good personalized health advice.
If you are flying by air, you may want to reevaluate traveling by air if you are dealing with one of the following issues for safety reasons.
- Will be taking a baby less than 48 hours (2 days) old.
- Have passed 36 weeks of pregnancy (or 32 weeks if you are carrying twins, triplets, etc.)
- Have recently had any type of surgery, especially stomach, brain, eye, or orthopedic (bone and joint) surgery. Check with your doctor to see when it is safe for you to travel.
- Have had a recent stomach, eye, or head injury. Check with your doctor to see when it is safe for you to travel.
- Have had a recent heart attack or stroke.
Along with these are preexisting conditions, which include the following.
- Any disease that you can easily spread to other people. This will vary, but there are several resources that help you determine what qualifies as contagious.
- Swelling of the brain caused by bleeding, injury, or infection.
- Chest pain.
- Sickle cell disease.
- Severe sinus, ear, or nose infections.
- Severe chronic respiratory diseases, breathlessness at rest, or a collapsed lung.
- Psychotic illness except when fully controlled.’
Depending on your illness, you may not be able to get on the plane. Several of the issues here may also apply even if you aren’t flying. It may be difficult to postpone that dream vacation, but no trip is worth putting an excess risk on your health.
During Your Trip
Every bit as important as preparing before your trip is staying healthy during your trip. Every region of the world has its unique risks, but here are some common situations you may encounter:
Diarrhea: This is probably the most common travel health issue, but having good practices on your end can make it easy to keep this from happening. The most common cause of travel diarrhea is contaminants in food. Try to avoid tap water, ice, as well as food washed in tap water. If you end up getting caught with diarrhea, be sure to invest in electrolyte drinks and other water to make up for the water you are losing. You may also need antibiotics in serious cases.
Respiratory Infections: This is as simple as a cold, and can happen with just about any place with a cold climate. In general, you may be able to power through, but keeping decongestants with you may be able to help you with these issues. In addition, keeping hydrated and getting plenty of rest will help your body’s natural capacity to recover.
Dental Issues: “Dental issues can quickly turn a dream trip into a nightmare. Therefore, a little oral care before your trip can go a long way. Loose dental work, fillings, cavities and chipped teeth are all examples of ways that things can go wrong”, says Dr. Michael Juban of JubanDental.com. If you have potential areas of risk (like fillings and dental work), it may not be a bad idea to schedule a dental visit a week or two before you leave. There are also a few home remedies that can help you deal with issues temporarily. These include clove oil for mouth pain and warm salt water rinses to keep problem areas clean.
If you plan on staying somewhere for a prolonged period of time, it may also be a good idea to see what type of health providers are in the area, like a hospital or emergency dentist. Hopefully, there would be no need for their services, but it’s a good idea to be prepared, especially if you are engaging in activities that have some level of risk or have preexisting conditions. However, if you do so, be sure that you are looking up credible medical professionals. In some cases, it may make more sense to wait until you get home if you are on a short trip and don’t have a viable option.