The best way to stay healthy while you are away from home is to plan your travel health. What do you need to know before you go?
If you are pregnant, traveling during the third trimester is generally not recommended. Consult with your doctor to find out if it's safe for you to go. If you are prone to seasickness or airsickness, ask your doctor which medications are safe for you to take.
Airline flights can slightly increase the risk of blood clots for pregnant women because they often involve prolonged sitting. If your travel plans involve sitting for longer than five hours, try walking around every half-hour to increase circulation. Also, drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration, which can also increase the risk of blood clots.
Vaccinations are another important part of travel health. Make sure that you and your family are up-to-date. Try to visit your doctor four to six weeks before you plan to leave because some vaccines are given over the course of days or weeks and need time to take effect. Depending on your travel destination, your doctor can also give you the recommended or required vaccinations for your trip.
Even if it's less than four weeks, your doctor can still help by giving you medications you need and information about how to avoid injury and illness. For instance, he or she can give you advice on how to prevent traveler's diarrhea -- one of the most common travel-related problems for infants and children.
Good hygiene is also a good preventive measure. Frequent hand washing and disinfecting bottles, pacifiers, teething rings and toys are all helpful in preventing the spread of germs. If hand-washing facilities are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
For travel outside of the United States, you can safeguard your family from food- and waterborne illness by following a few simple steps:
A travel kit is another way to stay healthy away from home. Be sure to pack all the essentials such as bandages, a thermometer, antibiotic ointment, hand sanitizer, ibuprofen and bug repellent. Family members who are taking prescription medications should be sure to pack a month's supply along with copies of their prescriptions in case they need refills.
If you are vacationing somewhere sunny, don't forget to bring sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher. And be sure to bring along hard candy or gum for older children on flights. Swallowing and chewing help decrease the pressure in the middle ear during landing and takeoff.
Prevent health mishaps from spoiling your vacation by partnering with your doctor to create a travel health plan.
Dr. Fatima Memon practices internal medicine at Sutter East Bay Medical Foundation and is a Sutter Delta Medical Center-affiliated physician.