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November 30, 2020 05:00am
By Alana Hippensteele, Editor
Staying healthy is important for all travelers, regardless of whether they have chronic health problems.
Traveling can be stressful, complex, difficult, and fun, depending on the arrangements, distance, time zones, and type of travel. Planning can make traveling an easier experience. Staying healthy is important for all travelers, regardless of whether they have chronic health problems. Below are some guidelines and preventive measures travelers can take to stay healthy.
Eating right can be tough when traveling. A limited availability of healthy choices and airport prices can make finding nutritious foods difficult. Bringing along healthy snacks, such as fruits, nuts, and nutritional bars, is an alternative to being at the mercy of convenience foods. Travelers should be informed about the food available at their travel destination, as well as at the stops along the way. Stick with unpeeled fruits and vegetables, in case the foods are not well cooked. A good site for resources and information is Cronometer (cronometer.com). This free site can track a multitude of diets, as well as nutrients, fitness, and health biometrics.1
Sleep wellness during long travel days may present a variety of health issues. Early mornings, long layovers, and uncomfortable seats can disrupt rest, and lower immunity to infection. One option is to focus on comfort. Earplugs, sleeping masks, and travel pillows can promote rest, and rejuvenation. For long flights that cross many time zones, a sleep aid may be a solution. Always consult a physician first; several OTC choices may be recommended when appropriate, and herbal products are available. Patients may need counseling on the medications prescribed by a health care provider, and information on adverse effects. Health care professionals can review the patient’s prescription profile for any potential adverse effects with the current regimen.
Staying properly hydrated is essential. Fluids may not always be readily available, so it is important to be prepared, especially for those traveling abroad. Travelers should be aware of the potential for getting sick from local drinking water. When appropriate, they should use bottled water, and avoid using ice when water safety is a concern. Depending on the destination, traveler’s diarrhea is a possibility.
Traveler’s diarrhea typically develops after ingesting food or water contaminated with organisms from feces that are infectious. These organisms can be bacteria, parasites, and viruses, with enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli the most common.2The condition presents with abdominal cramps, fever, loose stools, an urgent need to defecate, and vomiting. Staying hydrated is key because of the loss of water.
Most cases improve within 1 to 2 days without treatment and clear up completely within a week, but travelers can have multiple episodes of the condition during a trip.2Travelers should consult their physician about medications they can take if the condition arises, persists, or worsens.
There are many products available to aid in boosting immunity. Airborne, Emergen-C, and Zicam are examples. The ingredients lists vary, and may include Echinacea purpurea, electrolytes, zinc, and vitamins C, B, and E. Liquids, nasal sprays, reconstituted powders, and tablets are available, and can be transported easily.
First and foremost, there are ways to make a flight less stressful. Planning can help avoid some common issues. Here are a few tips:
Health care professionals can help patients get refills for their trips, and assist with proper storage, especially for products that require refrigeration. Patients with disease states, such as diabetes, may have additional health needs to consider. Regulating blood glucose on a travel day can be challenging, for instance. Having medication, and related supplies can keep travelers healthy, and avoid stress. Travelers should properly label medications, and put them in a carry-on in case checked luggage gets lost. There are many products available that can help keep medicines stable for a long trip.
CDC TRAVELERS’ ADVISORY
Here are tips from the CDC:
Each person is different. Regardless of their health status, being knowledgeable, and prepared can keep travelers healthy, and safe. Of course, travelers should always seek advice from a health care provider or physician, as they can counsel based on an individual’s health, and medication history. A provider can even order prescriptions for travelers to take along to avoid shortages and keep them covered in areas where medications are difficult to obtain. Finally, travelers should contact their health insurance provider to confirm coverage and find out whether it will be available at their destination.
Larry Calemine, RPh, obtained his BSPharm degree at West Virginia University (WVU) in 1992 and has spent most of his career focused on ambulatory pharmacy. In 1999, he trained at the Professional Compounding Centers of America to increase his knowledge, and worked for a compounding pharmacy specializing in altered-dosage forms. He obtained certifications in cardiovascular risk management, diabetes, immunization, and medication therapy management through the American Pharmacists Association. He developed a discharge pharmacy in 2012 at WVU Medicine’s outpatient pharmacy to aid in lowering readmission rates for all causes at J.W. Ruby Memorial Hospital in Morgantown, West Virginia. He also started an Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experience program with 6 schools of pharmacy to increase clinical outcomes.