Getting sick is never part of anyone’s summer vacation plans. Here’s how to guard against common health problems when traveling.
Problem: Jet setting across two or more time zones can disrupt your body’s internal clock, putting a damper on your activities.
Prevention: If you have an important event at your destination, arrive a day or two earlier to give your body time to adjust. If possible, change your bedtime a few days before you leave — earlier if flying east and later if flying west.
Problem: Ingesting contaminated water or food in undeveloped countries can result in diarrhea, fever and vomiting.
Prevention: Drink bottled water, and use it to brush your teeth. Don’t eat lettuce or other leafy greens, and eat raw fruits and vegetables only if you peel them. Avoid food sold by street vendors, and, in restaurants, choose food and drinks that are served hot.
Problem: Traveling to destinations higher than 8,000 feet can cause dizziness, nausea, headache and shortness of breath.
Prevention: If possible, gradually increase your altitude to get used to the changes. Drink plenty of fluids, eat regular meals and avoid alcohol. If you start to experience symptoms, descend as quickly and safely as you can. If you know you are at risk, talk to your doctor before your trip about medication that can reduce symptoms.
All travelers should also bring their insurance ID cards, lists of allergies and ongoing medical conditions, blood type and prescription and over-the-counter medications in their carry-on bag. Certain vaccines are also recommended for travelers going abroad; learn more at cdc.gov/travel.
Have vaccine, will travel
If you’re traveling to certain countries, you’ll need to get a vaccine at least four to six weeks before your departure. Start with your primary care physician. To find a doctor, visit augustahealth.org/familymedicine.