Everett Clinic Family Medicine physician, Dr. Catherine Gambs, contributed to the Everett Herald's Health & Wellness feature, "Make medical precautions part of your travel plans."
Dr. Gambs added:
Who needs to plan ahead?
Anyone, regardless of age or health history, can benefit from informed planning. However, certain demographics and pre-existing conditions warrant more attention.
“It is really imperative for those traveling with children, especially young ones, to make a travel consultation a priority,” Thottingal says. “Even if it’s a mild infection or traveler’s diarrhea, the impact is entirely different and more serious for a toddler than it is on a 20-year-old.”
Dr. Catherine Gambs with The Everett Clinic particularly advises being careful about such health issues as: chronic lung conditions including asthma, diabetes, history of strokes or blood clots, bleeding disorders, high risk for falling, heart conditions and predisposition toward heart conditions.
“However, even if someone is healthy, we still worry more about vulnerable populations such as children under 2 years and adults 65 years and older. They’re more prone to infections and bad outcomes,” Gambs says.
Your travel checklist
For last-minute trips, it’s wise to do as much preparation as possible. For travel to remote locations, it’s ideal to allocate extra time to getting information and making plans.
“Six months ahead is sometimes an appropriate window,” James says. “For example, the standard hepatitis A and B vaccines require many months in advance to administer and be fully protected.”
Required vaccines depend on the destination and patient’s history, but examples could include yellow fever, meningitis and polio.
Also, plan on finishing vaccine courses well in advance of departure. Some take days or weeks before becoming fully effective.
Prepare a summary of your medical history. It should include health conditions, allergies and the contact information for your regular doctor and any specialists.
List medications and their doses. Gambs advises using a medication’s universal, generic name rather than brand. Brand names can vary by country. The U.S. version might not be easily identifiable abroad.
“We recommend taking a paper copy (of your medical portfolio) rather than only relying on an electronic app. You never know if your smart phone or laptop might be stolen or if you’ll have access to electricity and network systems. It’s also prudent to carry it on your person with other essentials such as your passport. Keep another copy maybe in your luggage,” Marcolongo says.
Refill needed medications and ensure you have extra in case of delays. Do not assume you can or should refill prescriptions in foreign countries.
“In India, for example, it’s estimated that 60 percent of medications are counterfeit. The packaging and labelling look right, but it’s not. That’s typically true for more expensive medications above $20, “ James says. “Don’t plan on buying abroad.”
Do not repackage prescription medications. Leave them in their original bottles.
Quick tip - Wash your hands.
Dr. Catherine Gambs recommends constant washing of hands — especially before eating. Infections are easily transferred from hands to the eyes, nose and mouth.
Read the article, "Make medical precautions part of your travel plans."