Spring break and summer vacation will be here before we know it, and getting sick while traveling is certainly no vacation. Here are some tips to help you stay healthy and enjoy your time away.
If you’re flying to your destination, keep in mind a couple of important things. First, the environment of an airplane cabin is not conducive to good health. In terms of air quality, airplane air is very dry (generally below 25 percent humidity), compared to your home, which you may notice in your nose, mouth or skin. It may help to bring some lotion or saline solution to moisturize your skin or to spray the inside of your nostrils.
The pressure and lack of oxygen in a plane cabin can make you feel as if you were mountain climbing. Remember to take full, deep breaths to help obtain the required amount of oxygen for your system.
Stay well-hydrated by drinking lots of water and avoiding soda. Remember to get up and walk around every hour or so, especially on very long flights. This will help get the blood circulating and help prevent deep vein thrombosis (or DVT). According to the American Heart Association, risk factors for DVT include dehydration and low cabin pressure.
Try not to use the provided blankets or pillows; they may not have been adequately cleaned between uses. Instead, bring your own extra socks and sweater to keep warm.
And finally, bring some disinfecting wipes to wipe down your seat arms, tray table and seatbelt. When you check into your hotel, use more disinfecting wipes on the light switches, door knobs and remote controls. If you have access to a fitness center, continue with your fitness regimen to help keep your immune system at peak levels and to minimize disturbing your daily routine.
You may want to check with your health insurance provider to see if they cover any medical expenses incurred in a foreign country. If you are prone to illnesses or have a certain medical condition, it may be wise to enroll in an international medical/security insurance program.
Bring one or two days worth of extra prescription medications along with you – you never want to be without them. And try not to buy medications abroad; according to the FDA, some foreign medications may contain impure or toxic ingredients as a result of a lack of federal regulation.
Don’t forget first aid remedies, including sunscreen, insect repellant, cold medicine, bandages, anti-diarrheals, allergy medication and pain relievers.
Hopefully with just a little planning ahead, you should feel confident and prepared for traveling domestically or abroad. Remember, a little research and planning can go a long way. Safe travels!
Dr. David B. Samadi is the Vice Chairman of the Department of Urology and Chief of Robotics and Minimally Invasive Surgery at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City. He is a board-certified urologist, specializing in the diagnosis and treatment of urological disease, with a focus on robotic prostate cancer treatments. To learn more please visit his websites RoboticOncology.com and SMART-surgery.com. Find Dr. Samadi on Facebook.