Dr. MJ Bazos MD,
Tips for Staying Healthy
Here are some tips to help you stay
healthy when you travel to other
- Plan ahead. See your doctor at least 6 weeks
before you leave. Some vaccines don't reach the highest protection until about 6
weeks after you get the shots.
- Have medical and dental check-ups before your
trip, to be aware of problems and to find out about medicines you might want to
- Be prepared. Find out what your health insurance
will pay for if you see a doctor while you're in another country. Carry enough
of your regular medicines in their original containers, along with extra
prescriptions for them and also eyewear prescriptions. Wear a medical
information bracelet if needed. Take along a first-aid kit (see following page).
- Eat carefully if you're going to a country with
an increased risk of traveler's diarrhea. Steaming-hot, well-cooked food is
usually safest. Avoid eating foods from street vendors, unpasteurized dairy
products, and raw or uncooked seafood. Peel fruits yourself. Drink water from
commercially sealed bottles or drink carbonated beverages. Avoid ice. Use
bottled water when you brush your teeth.
- If you're going to a country with a risk of
malaria, take preventive medicine for malaria as prescribed by your doctor.
Remember to start taking your malaria medicine before you leave on your trip,
take it during your travels and keep taking it for 4 weeks after you get home.
- Avoid swimming and other water activities in
freshwater lakes and streams. Schistosomiasis and bilharzia are diseases you
might be exposed to in some African streams and lakes.
- If you're going to a country with an increased
risk of mosquito-borne disease, protect yourself against insects. Insect
repellents that contain deet work the best. Wear permethrin-coated clothing and
use bed nets while you sleep.
- Try to avoid taking overcrowded transportation.
Try not to ride in vehicles without safety belts. Wear a helmet if you'll be
riding a motorcycle. Try to avoid driving at night or in unfamiliar areas
without local help and directions.
Things to include
in a first-aid kit for traveling
- Your prescription medicines, in their original
- Medicine for diarrhea and upset stomach. Talk to
your doctor about getting a prescription for an antibiotic you can take in case
you get diarrhea. Pack bismuth subsalicylate (brand name: Pepto Bismol),
loperamide (brand name: Imodium) and antacids.
- Cough and cold medicines.
- Pain medicines, such as asprin, acetaminophen (
one brand name: Tylenol), naproven (brand name: Aleve), ibuprofen ( one brand
name: Motrin) or ketoprofen (brand name: Orudis).
- Decongestants and antihistamines for allergies.
The kinds that don't cause sleepiness are better when you're traveling.
- Antibiotic ointment, adhesive bandages,
hydrocortisone cream, moleskin for blisters, sunscreen with a sun protection
factor (SPF) of at least 15, and lip balm.
- Medicine for motion sickness, such as
dimenhydrinate (brand name: Dramamine), and an antinausea drug like promethazine
(brand name: Phenergan). Acetazolamide (brand name: Diamox) may help prevent
- Scissors, tweezers, nail clippers, pocket knife,
thermometer, and mirror.
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