MADISON, Wis.-Being prepared isn’t just for the Boy Scout motto, but sound advice for a healthy vacation.
Nurse practitioner and travel consultant Elaine Rosenblatt says people get caught up in plane and hotel reservations and don’t give enough thought to protecting their health during vacation.
“Many health issues that come up during vacation can actually be avoided with some planning,” says Rosenblatt, who has more than three decades of experience as a travel-health consultant and practices at a clinic affiliated with the University of Wisconsin-Madison. “Vacationers should begin preparing at least two months before the trip, especially if it’s an international trip.”
Rosenblatt says it can take a series of vaccinations over a few weeks to become immunized to various illnesses and diseases. She says seasoned travelers know they should make sure they are up to date on the three “Rs”—required, recommended and routine vaccinations. Rosenblatt also recommends vaccination against the flu, the number-one vaccine-preventable illness. But she notes there are many other potential health pitfalls that even the well-traveled don’t always consider.
“A lot of travelers don’t look over their health care insurance plans to find out what’s covered and what’s not covered,” notes Rosenblatt. “If there’s a gap in your coverage, you might want to consider travel insurance.” She says travelers sometimes have to be air-lifted out of remote areas to get emergency treatment, which can be very costly.
“Your teeth don’t care if you’re on vacation,” says Rosenblatt about a health concern that most people don’t think about. “You could save yourself a lot of pain and hassle by seeing your dentist before you leave on your trip.” She recommends that people tell their dentist when they are planning a trip abroad.
While emergency medical issues are the worst-case scenario, Rosenblatt says the everyday cold, headache or flu can ruin your vacation just as easily.
“I recommend that travelers pack a medical kit with common remedies like pain relievers,” says Rosenblatt. She suggests that people with chronic health conditions should make sure they’re prepared for any travel complications. For example, someone with asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD) should pack an extra inhaler.
When in doubt about travel health issues, contact a travel consultant recommended by your primary care provider.
For more information on travel health, go to http://www.uwhealth.org/travel-vaccinations/travel-medicine/10300.
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