By Laura Radke, MD
You can’t control the weather, but you can prevent illness and prepare for potential health needs while traveling.
No matter where you are headed, get immunized for the flu. Flu is especially prevalent in the northern hemisphere in winter and is a year-around illness in many tropical destinations.
Even if you’re planning a trip within the United States or to another place that has advanced health care services, you’ll want to pack some basic medical supplies. Small, travel-friendly products are readily available in local stores and can save you from headaches – literally and figuratively – when you’re out of town.
Your packing list should include:
Any prescription medication needed for the duration of the trip.
Your health insurance and physician contact information.
Pain reliever, Band-aids and antiseptic ointment.
Sunscreen, insect repellant and insect netting, as needed.
Miscellaneous items for comfort, such as fabric knee braces or orthotic shoe inserts.
If you are traveling to places that have mosquitos, learn about the Zika virus before leaving. Your physician and CDC.gov/Zika can provide up-to-date information about the virus and preventing mosquito bites.
Women who are pregnant and people with chronic conditions need to discuss their travel plans with their physicians and health insurers. For example, patients with diabetes may need to ask their doctor about adjusting their insulin schedules or medications while out of town.
In addition, it’s a good idea to determine the location of the hospital or clinic nearest your accommodations when away from home.
International travel medicine
Travel to a remote location requires advanced preparation. Consultation with an international travel medicine professional four to six weeks before a trip is highly recommended when you are planning to travel to places where health care may not be advanced or easily accessible.
International travel medicine services are designed for people traveling for service, business, pleasure or study. Travelers to Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, India, and South and Central America can benefit greatly from health care travel planning, which would include:
An assessment of your current health status, including medical conditions, allergies and immunizations.
An assessment of health risks associated with your trip destination, duration and itinerary.
Essential health care advice regarding important topics such as preventing and treating illness and traveler's diarrhea, personal safety and travel insurance.
Options for vaccination and boosters to prevent hepatitis A & B, yellow fever, typhoid, rabies and Japanese encephalitis, as needed.
Necessary written materials such as CDC/WHO travel information, customized travel medicine information packet, vaccine information sheets and other applicable resources.
A comprehensive approach to care
International travel medicine professionals provide information, counseling, vaccines, prescriptions and recommendations to help make your trip safe and enjoyable.
Tips to help you eat well and prevent and treat relatively common problems such as motion sickness, sunburn or altitude sickness can help keep your vacation on track. Conversations about dangerous illnesses and medical treatments in a foreign country can allow you to avoid a potentially challenging and dangerous situation.
An international travel medicine clinic also can provide contact information and personalized advice regarding foreign clinics and hospitals, as well as vital tips like how to pack prescriptions and get through customs without difficulties.
For pregnant women whose physicians have cleared them for travel, a professional who specializes in travel medicine can offer advice about nutrition and digestive issues, as well as preventing blood clots and insect-borne and other diseases.
When you invest time to educate yourself before you leave, you can prevent health problems and maximize your travel experiences and memories.
Find flu vaccination locations and schedules at ProHealthCare.org/Flu. ProHealth Care International Travel Medicine Services are available in Mukwonago, Watertown and Waukesha. Consultations may be scheduled by calling 262-928-5900 or visiting ProHealthCare/TravelMedicine.
Laura Radke, MD, is a physician with ProHealth Medical Group who specializes in infectious diseases and travel medicine.
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For more than a century, ProHealth Care has been the health care leader in Waukesha County and surrounding areas, providing outstanding care across a full spectrum of services. The people of ProHealth Care strive to continuously improve the health and well-being of the community by combining skill, compassion and innovation. The ProHealth family includes ProHealth Waukesha Memorial Hospital, ProHealth Oconomowoc Memorial Hospital, ProHealth Rehabilitation Hospital of Wisconsin, ProHealth Medical Group, the UW Cancer Center at ProHealth Care, Moreland Surgery Center, ProHealth AngelsGrace Hospice, ProHealth Home Care, ProHealth West Wood Health & Fitness Center and ProHealth Regency Senior Communities. Learn more at ProHealthCare.org.