Top 5 Questions to Ask Your Doctor Before You Travel
Medically Reviewed by Michael D. Holzer, MD, MPH-TM
Summer’s here and your vacation plans to travel abroad are quickly approaching. By now you’ve double checked flight itinerary, hotel bookings, passports, and made sure to remind everyone at work about your awaiting get away. As you prepare for your foreign excursion there is one thing you might have overlooked on your checklist and that’s your health. Traveling to foreign countries presents unique health risks that you would normally not face while travelling in the states.
So before your loved ones wish you “Bon Voyage”, here are the top 5 questions you should ask your doctor before your trip.
1. Do I need any vaccinations and if so, when should I get them?
While travelling to other countries, there are health issues you may encounter that you may not ordinarily face at home. Depending on what part of the world you plan to travel, your doctor will recommend which vaccines are needed. The CDC recommends visiting your doctor or travel health specialist four to six weeks prior to travelling abroad, in order to allow your body time to build up immunity after receiving a vaccine. Additionally some vaccines are given in a series spread out over the course of a few weeks.
2. Which medications should I take with me?
If you are currently taking prescription medication(s) you will want to be sure you bring enough extra just in case there are any unplanned delays in your trip. Additionally you will want to bring a copy of the prescription for the medication with you in order to make border crossings easier.
As a preventive measure you may want to bring a small supply of antibiotics to alleviate common or reoccurring illness such as traveler’s diarrhea, bladder infection, sinus infection or yeast infection. Also, be sure to include OTC medications such as Benadryl, Acetaminophen, and Ibuprofen just for minor ailments.
3. What can I do to prevent blood clots?
Sitting in a confined space for a long period of time on a long distance flight poses the risk for blood clots in your legs. Be sure to move your legs frequently by stretching your legs and exercising your calf muscles to improve the flow of blood. Talk with your doctor if you think you may be at risk for blood clots as they may recommend wearing compression stockings.
4. What can I do to prevent unfamiliar diseases?
Different parts of the world have different common illnesses. By taking minor precautions such as using insect repellent and lotions to ward off insect bites, drinking bottled or boiled water, or wearing shoes on the beach can all help avoid common illnesses and infections. A travel health specialist can provide you with detailed advice and information on preparing for unfamiliar illnesses.
5. What do I do if I get sick while abroad or upon my return?
While you may try your best to prevent illness while abroad, it can still happen without warning and you should plan in advance on how to get care when out of the country. A great resource to help you locate medical services and notify your friends and family in the event of an emergency is the US Embassy in your destination country. Additionally, it may be helpful to sign up for a travel medical insurance plan. Most travel medical plans will include coverage for both emergency medical care in the event you become ill or injured while travelling.
If you are feeling ill upon your return home after a trip, you should see your doctor right away especially if you develop a fever after visiting a malaria-prone country. You should also see your doctor if you continue to have stomach irritation and/or diarrhea as this could be caused by parasites and you may need to be treated with prescription medication.
A vacation should be a fun, memorable experience for you, and getting sick while travelling can really ruin your plans. Concentra provides travel health services for people traveling to a wide variety of destinations, supporting safe and healthy travel while away from home. To schedule an appointment at a Concentra travel clinic location, before your next trip call us at 1-888-711-2974 Monday-Friday, 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. central standard time.
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