Family Health Healthy Living

Healthy travels to you: How to stay well this summer

Getting sick is never part of anyone’s summer vacation plans. Here’s how to guard against common health problems when traveling.

Jet lag

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.

Traveler’s diarrhea

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.

Altitude sickness

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

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

About the author

Augusta University Health

Based in Augusta, Georgia, Augusta University Health is a world-class health care network, offering the most comprehensive primary, specialty and subspecialty care in the region. Augusta University Health provides skilled, compassionate care to its patients, conducts leading-edge clinical research and fosters the medical education and training of tomorrow’s health care practitioners. Augusta University Health is a not-for-profit corporation that manages the clinical operations associated with Augusta University.