Planning to vacation abroad this summer? It’s important to know a few things you can do to stay healthy and happy when you get to your destination.
Do a Little Research
Before heading off on that exotic getaway, it’s important to educate yourself on where you will be staying. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website lets you choose your specific destination and offers advice on recommended or required vaccinations for that location. It also includes information on prevalent illnesses and other potential hazards.
Contact Your Doctor
For popular countries with heavy tourist traffic, a visit to your regular doctor might be all you need. Discuss any existing medical issues that may affect you while traveling. For less touristy countries, a travel-medicine specialist may be your best option. These experts can keep you current on changing alerts and advancements in medications.
When was the last time you had your routine vaccinations, including the annual flu shot? The ideal time to see your doctor for these shots is 4-6 weeks before you travel because some vaccinations may require more than one dose.
The CDC reminds travelers to save room in their suitcase for a travel health kit; which should include:
- A first aid kit
- Over-the-counter medication(s)
- Prescription medication(s) and copies of your prescriptions
- Sunscreen (at least SPF 15)
- Insect repellent
- Bed net (for insects)
- Other personal health items you may need, like condoms
Tips While You’re Away
- Wash your hands – Wash frequently and always before eating. Carry antiseptic wipes or hand sanitizer when washing facilities aren’t available.
- Watch your food and beverages – Foreign bacteria and parasites carry diseases that can be spread by contaminated food and water. To stay on the safe side, stick to bottled drinks, food that’s cooked and served hot, and fruits and vegetables that you have washed in clean water.
- Wear bug repellent – Mosquito-borne illnesses are dangerous in many developing countries. Diseases like the Zika virus, malaria, and dengue fever are spread by mosquitos. For adults, the CDC recommends using a repellent with 20-50% DEET.
If you develop an illness within 30 days of returning from your vacation — including any gastrointestinal problems, rashes, or skin issues — contact your doctor right away. Tell your healthcare provider:
- Where you traveled
- What you did on your trip
- How long you were there
- What you ate and drank
- Whether you were bitten by any bugs
- Any other possible exposures (sex, tattoos, piercings)
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Patient Plus treats most common illnesses and injuries — the sniffles, rashes, fevers, aches, breaks, and other conditions that deserve prompt treatment but aren’t serious enough to require a trip to the nearest emergency room. The clinics provide complete diagnostic services, including X-rays, EKGs, and flu and strep tests. Other services include physicals, vaccinations, and more. Patient Plus clinics are open every day from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., and patients never need to call first or make an appointment.