All posts in Travel Pharmacist Tips

Delhi Belly, Montezuma’s Revenge, Turkey Trots – How to NOT pick up Travelers’ Diarrhea! The Travel Pharmacist

Delhi Belly, Montezuma’s Revenge, Turkey Trots – How to NOT pick up Travelers’ Diarrhea! The Travel Pharmacist

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For all of the fun and clever names, Travelers’ Diarrhea (TD) is NOT something anyone who travels wishes to experience. Being sick at home is bad enough, but when you’re traveling – it seems so much worse. Over 10 million cases of TD are reported to the CDC annually!

The bad news is that this is the most common ailment of all international travelers. In fact, 20-50% of us will be affected at one time or another. Travelers’ Diarrhea is a bacterial infection that comes on very quickly and usually resolves with a week, but during that time the nausea, vomiting, watery diarrhea, cramping and stomach upset can make you feel miserable.

Persons at particular high-risk include young adults, persons with compromised immune systems, persons with inflammatory-bowel disease or diabetes, and persons taking H-2 blockers or antacids. We pick up TD from eating or drinking something that has been in contact with contaminated water.

The good news is that with a few precautions, we can greatly lessen our risk for contracting TD.

* Know the “high-risk” areas. If you’re traveling to developing areas in Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia be aware that the destination is the greatest indicator of where you’ll most often find TD.

* Prevention works. Pepto-Bismol (bismuth subsalicylate) taken 2 tablets 4 times daily or 2 fluid ounces 4 times daily has been shown to greatly decrease the incidence of TD. Pack a few extra tablets or a small bottle of liquid in your bag – we do!

* Avoid street vendors. This is a tough one for me, because we love eating local foods from street vendors when we travel. But if you want to be 100% sure of not contracting TD, then its best to avoid street food. We usually compromise and will only frequent those who look “safe” though that hasn’t always worked for us, either. 🙂

* Avoid eating raw fruits, like oranges or bananas, unless you’ve peeled them yourself.

* Tap water, ice, unpasteurized milk, and dairy products are associated with increased risk for TD. It’s better to stick with bottled water or beer instead.

If you do end up with a case of Montezuma’s Revenge, the best thing to do is HYDRATE. Clear liquids are routinely recommended for adults. Electrolyte replacement drinks are good for replacing what the body is losing. Thankfully, most cases clear up on their own within a few days, but if you’re still experiencing symptoms, running a fever, or seeing bloody stools, it’s important to see a doctor ASAP.

Happy, Healthy Travels!

As with all medical conditions discussed on the Internet, check first with your doctor before using any alternative treatments.

More Travel Health Tips from The Travel Pharmacist HERE.

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Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) : Compression Sock Tips – The Travel Pharmacist

Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) : Compression Sock Tips – The Travel Pharmacist

The Travel Pharmacist

It’s a traveler’s nightmare – a sudden blood clot that develops in a vein within the muscle tissue after a long haul flight – called Deep Vein Thrombosis or DVT. The larger veins of the leg, arm, chest, or pelvis are most susceptible. DVT is more dangerous than a surface clot because of a higher possibility of the clot traveling though the bloodstream and lodging in the lungs, causing a pulmonary embolism. Deep vein thrombosis is extremely dangerous in that if the clot breaks off, it may quickly escalate to a complete blockage of a blood vessel – severe organ damage and even death can occur within hours.

However, traveler’s aren’t the only people at risk for DVT. If you are over 60, sit for long periods of time, have varicose veins, use birth control pills, smoke or have had recent surgery, such as hip replacement or heart surgery, your risk rises considerably.

Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) may occur without any symptoms, but typically you need to look out for the following:

* a heavy, aching feeling in the deep muscle areas of either the arm, leg or pelvis

* pain, swelling or tenderness in the legs, usually the calf area

* redness or swelling behind the knee

* a feeling of warmth in the area of the clot

It’s important to seek medical help immediately. If it is DVT, prompt medical attention is essential to prevent severe tissue damage or even death. Treatment may include a course of blood thinners to help keep the clot from growing or breaking off into the bloodstream. Elevation therapy is an option and in some cases surgery may be required. Over 600, 000 cases are treated in the US every year, but thankfully there are steps you can take to prevent deep vein thrombosis (DVT) from occurring.

1. Maintain a healthy weight

2. Keep active every day. Walking, cycling, or swimming are all good choices.

3. Stop smoking

4. If you will be sitting on a plane or in a car for more than 4 hours, be sure to get up and walk as much as possible. On long haul flights, use the in-flight cards for stretching exercises for the feet and legs.

5. Compression socks or stockings are another way to help avoid deep vein thrombosis for travelers and those at higher risk. However, it’s important to know how to properly use them.

symbol-26757_640Here are a few Tips for Compression Socks and Stockings

* The correct size is important. If you experience a “pins and needles” feeling when wearing them, that means the stockings are too tight. Choose a larger size.

* Don’t roll the stockings down and leave them rolled down. This binds the tissue and can restrict active blood flow to your legs.

* Try to avoid bunching around the toes or behind the knees. To keep an active compression, they need to fit snugly, but not too tight.

* Remove once a day for 1 hour to let the blood flow return to normal, then put them back on.

If you suspect you might have DVT, please seek medical attention right away!

Happy, Healthy Travels!

More Travel Health Tips from The Travel Pharmacist HERE.

Who is The Travel Pharmacist Team? As with all medical conditions discussed on the Internet, check first with your doctor before using any alternative treatments.

 

 

 

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Herbs For Health

Herbs For Health

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A pinch of salt. A dash of pepper. Just a smidgen of basil to bring out the flavor. We use herbs and spices all the time to make our food taste better, but what if adding an extra herb or two to a meal could boost our health as well? Whether you’re in another country shopping in a foreign market or simply growing your own herbs for health reasons, these are 5 commonly used garden wonders to improve overall well being.

Basil – Can you smell the delicious aroma of fresh basil leaves, still warm from the sun? This aromatic leaf is packed with calcium, magnesium, and vitamins C and K. A few leaves in a capresĂ© salad or ground as pesto over warm noodles work in the body to help lower blood pressure and boost circulation.

Marigolds – Such a pretty flower with so many valuable perks for the body! This colorful orange flower contains an abundance of powerful antioxidants responsible for brightening skin complexion. To use fresh flower petals, pour boiling water over the mixture and let soak overnight. Strain and chill to use as a daily skin toner. You may also see the oils of marigold flowers in many skin creams also known as calendula.

Peppermint Leaves – Crush a few of these stimulating leaves and soak in cold water for a few minutes. Apply to the pulse points and temple for an energizing break. Peppermint eases tension headaches and if inhaled as an oil, it can expand sinuses and relieve that heavy feeling you get when your sinuses are congested.

Chamomile – This versatile herb has been used in natural medicine for centuries to cure everything from digestive issues to anxiety. Chamomile plants are made up of thin feathery branched leaves and erect fuzzy green stems that produce numerous flowering heads. The florets are flat with triangular white petals and conical sunflower yellow centers. The flower heads are used as an infusion to create chamomile tea. The florets can also be used as an herbal element in salads or as a garnish.

Chrysanthemums – Suffering from a headache? Soak a handful of fresh chrysanthemum flowers in hot water for 10 minutes and drink as a relaxing tea. The effect of releasing blood vessel constriction and decreasing muscle tension in the head will often put the headache away in minutes.

Do you have a favorite herb or herbal remedy? Please share what’s worked well for you!

As with all medical conditions discussed on the Internet, check first with your doctor before using any alternative treatments.

Happy, Healthy Travels!

More Travel Health Tips from The Travel Pharmacist HERE.

Who is The Travel Pharmacist Team?

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Sleep Tips to Beat Insomnia

Sleep Tips to Beat Insomnia

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You know the feeling. Tossing and turning all night, punching your pillow, and your mind just won’t let go – it’s insomnia. For many people, insomnia is a chronic condition they face with dread. Getting enough sleep at night is very important to maintain good health and high energy, especially when traveling. Without a good night’s sleep, your body and mind work at less-than-optimal productivity. Jet lag, travel delays, time zone shuffles, and stress/worry are just a few of the many factors that can cause this disorder. Insomnia affects nearly everyone at one time or another, so let’s see what we can do to get you snoozing again!

What is insomnia?

Insomnia is the inability to get enough quality sleep to feel rested. This includes being unable to fall asleep or to stay asleep, waking up very early, and/or not feeling refreshed after sleeping. Certain medications and medical conditions, excessive stress, or poor sleeping/bedtime habits all affect sleep quality. While the majority of insomnia cases can be directly traced to stressful or anxiety-producing life events, there are also insomniacs with depression, vitamin and mineral imbalances, and breathing difficulties.

Non-drug treatments

Developing good sleep habits is often one of the best treatments for this condition. Getting yourself back into a habit of going to bed at a regular time and avoiding stimulation (like exercise or caffeine) before bedtime may be enough to break the temporary pattern of sleeplessness. Relaxation techniques, dietary changes to include foods high in the amino acid tryptophan (bananas, turkey, cottage cheese, and milk), and a healthy lifestyle that includes exercise can all help you sleep more soundly.

A leading herb used for sleeplessness is valerian. Valerian root makes getting to sleep easier and increases deep sleep and dreaming. It does not cause a ‘morning hangover’ – a side effect common to some OTC sleep aids. Many people use 300 to 400mg of a concentrated valerian root preparation thirty minutes before bedtime.

Melatonin has also shown some success in getting sleep patterns back on track after experiencing JET LAG, but not for treating general insomnia.

OTC treatments

Sleep aids like Tylenol PM and Nytol contain the antihistamine diphenhydramine and may be effective in the short term. A word of warning about all diphenhydramine products – they can make you very, very sleepy and groggy! While this is great for getting sleep, it isn’t so nice when you find yourself having to navigate in a foreign county. Give yourself plenty of time to sleep and to get over the lingering groggy effects.

Although over-the-counter sleep aids may be useful for occasional treatment of insomnia, especially during traveling, it is not a good idea to use these products on a regular basis. These do not help with the underlying cause of insomnia and may become less effective after a few days of use.

Prescription treatments

For cases of insomnia that last longer than one month, prescription medications from your doctor may be in order. A class of drugs called sedative-hypnotics are commonly prescribed to treat chronic insomnia. Ambien (generic zolpidem) and Lunesta (generic eszopiclone) are two of the medications in this class that you’ll see most often. These work to help you fall asleep faster, though some people still report a groggy feeling the next day. Use care if taking these if you need to be sharp in the morning.

Here’s to getting back on track and sleeping well! Take care!

As with all medical conditions discussed on the Internet, check first with your doctor before using any alternative treatments.

Happy, Healthy Travels!

More Travel Health Tips from The Travel Pharmacist HERE.

Who is The Travel Pharmacist Team?

 

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Sun Safety – The Travel Pharmacist

Sun Safety – The Travel Pharmacist

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Sun Safety

Summer’s finally here and it’s time to get outside! Family fun at the beach or lake includes lots of time out in the sun – but too much sun can be harmful down the road. In fact, during childhood a single blistering sunburn can double the risk of skin cancer later in life. But we love the sun and being outside! Thankfully, damage from the sun is completely preventable as long as we follow a few SUN SAFETY TIPS.

Both the Skin Cancer Foundation and the Sun Safety Alliance recommend wearing protective clothing and hats as a first line of defense to shield tender skin.

  • Limit outdoor activities during the harshest sun time of 10am -2pm
  • Protect the eyes by using sunglasses with 100% UV protection
  • Beware of surfaces like snow, sand, concrete, and water which can reflect the damaging rays

Sunscreens

A sunscreen works by blocking the sun’s UV rays on the body where it’s applied. The sun naturally produces both UVA and UVB rays. UVA rays cause skin aging, while UVB rays cause burns. Picking the right  sunscreen is important. Consider factors such as the amount of time in the water, the activity you’ll be doing, and the time of day you plan to be out in the sun.

  • Choose a broad spectrum sunscreen (UVA and UVB) with an SPF of at least 15
  • Apply to children older than 6 months old
  • Apply 30 minutes BEFORE going out and reapply every 2 hours
  • Reapply after swimming, sweating, or towel drying

Sun Sensitive Medications

Medicines and the sun sometimes don’t mix well. Some drugs can cause a photosensitivity reaction. The occurs when an individual taking a particular drug is exposed to sunlight and the skin reacts with a rash, intense burning, redness and swelling. If you notice any of these symptoms or your burn seems out of proportion to the amount of sun exposure, it may be a result of photosensitivity. Here are just a few medications to be aware of – but always check with your doctor or pharmacist before going out in the sun whenever a new medicine is prescribed.

  • Retin-A (tretinoin)
  • Zyrtec (cetirizine)
  • Benadryl (diphenhydramine)
  • Zithromax (azithromycin)

Sunburn

Typically, the redness and pain of a sunburn will appear in one to 20 hours after the exposure. However, the skin doesn’t have to turn red to be damaged. A more serious sunburn may present with fever, nausea, prickly sensations, and chills. Small blisters and lizard-like peeling of the skin as the burn begins to heal are also common.

  • Cool baths and cold compresses are soothing for sun-reddened skin
  • Orange juice or Vitamin C supplements help give the body extra immune support while the skin heals
  • Anti-inflammatory pain relievers, like ibuprofen or naproxen sodium work well to ease the pain
  • The aloe plant (or handy jar of aloe gel) is thought to work in two ways. First, the compounds in the gel limit the effects of bradykinin, a pain-producing agent in our bodies. Second, aloe stimulates skin cell growth, immune response, and regeneration of some types of nerve cells.

Happy, Healthy Travels!

More Travel Health Tips from The Travel Pharmacist HERE.

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