All Posts tagged travel health

5 Ways To Fight The Flu Naturally

No one ever wants to come down with a bad case of the flu. Especially, when you’re traveling. Unlike the common cold, which can be caused by over 100 different viruses, the flu is caused by one of 3 strains (Type A, B, or C) of the influenza virus. Unfortunately, a virus isn’t affected at all by antibiotics and only will respond to antivirals if given within 24-48 hours of first symptoms. So once the flu takes hold, your only choice is to wait it out, be miserable, and treat the symptoms as much as possible. And the symptoms can be very unpleasant. Here are 5 ways to fight the flu naturally.

Do I Have a Cold or the Flu?

Difference-cold-flu

Now you know all the bad stuff a case of the flu brings with it…fever, severe aches and pain that may last for several weeks, chills, and headaches. What can we do to avoid this unpleasantness altogether? When traveling, our bodies are already stressed to the max. Crowded airplanes, unsanitary taxis, and sometimes questionable hotel/hostel accommodations all greatly increase the chances that we’ll come up against one of those nasty flu viruses and not be able to fight it off. Here are a few tips on keeping healthy and avoiding the flu naturally while traveling.

5 Ways to Avoid the Flu Naturally

1. Keep it clean. Wash your hands as often as possible. Touching the nose, mouth, and eyes is one of the most common way the flu virus is spread. Hand sanitizers and antimicrobial wet wipes are great for travelers. While they aren’t as effective on viruses, a quick wipe up of your airplane seat rests, computer keyboard, pens and tray table can go a long way to prevent the spread of bacteria and some viruses.

2. Boost your body. Fight the flu with the food you eat. Traveling can be tough on the digestive system, so keeping it simple with a good variety of fresh fruits and vegetables is essential. The more colorful the better! Colorful foods are usually highest in immunity-strengthening antioxidants. Fruits and veggies high in important vitamin C include oranges, red/green chili peppers, fresh kale, kiwi fruit, strawberries, and papayas.

3. Get plenty of sleep. Often when traveling, our body clocks get all out of whack. Jet lag and sleep issues can quickly bring down an otherwise health immune system and set us up for the flu virus to come in. Shoot for 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep if possible and your body will thank you for it. See Beat Jet Lag more tips on how to come out ahead of this pesky traveler’s affliction.

4. Walk it off. Even mild exercise for 30-60 minutes each day can give your body’s immune system an extra kick. Take a brisk walk or a long run. Not only will you be seeing your new destination through different eyes, but you’ll be giving yourself more muscle to fight the flu. Exercise also relieves stress quite effectively and we all know traveling can be a very stressful experience at times.

5. Enjoy a cuppa. What better way to put your immune system into first gear to avoid the flu than to enjoy a cup of soothing tea? Simple ingredients like fresh lemon juice, ginger and honey added to a cup of green or black tea boost the body’s resistance to flu viral invasion. Decaffeinated green teas help keep the body hydrated and flushed as well. The warmth feels so good going down!

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

Happy, Healthy Travels!

Lisa Chavis, RPh ~ The Travel Pharmacist

 

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Tackle Jet Lag

Tackle Jet Lag

Jet lag – those awful words! You can’t keep your eyes open long enough to snap that long-awaited vista. The hotel pool has a lovely swim-up bar, but you’d rather curl up in the room and sleep for hours. Most travelers have had at least one instance of this annoying condition while on vacation. Beating jet lag will give you back valuable time to enjoy your time away. Jet lag is a crafty thief. The groggy, sleepy, grumpy, not being able to concentrate on anything more than laying your head down on a pillow feeling steals away precious vacation and travel time.

What you want to do is go out and see the sights of the new place where you’ve just arrived. Instead, your body is telling you in no uncertain terms that you must waste hours sleeping until your body’s inner clock rights itself.

Sometimes jet lag presents itself during the night as insomnia. Other daytime symptoms include poor concentration, confusion, hunger at inappropriate times or lack of appetite, and general irritability.

The medical term for jet lag is desynchronosis. But what causes this combination of unpleasant feelings and disorientation? When your body moves faster than your inner clock can keep up – such as flying over several time zones – jet lag can occur. It’s your body’s way of resetting itself to your new surroundings. Typically jet lag is worse when flying from west to east, but for some people it can occur whenever multiple time zones are crossed.

We all agree it’s something we’d rather not deal with, so what can we do to avoid it? As the Travel Pharmacist, I’m often asked how to avoid jet lag or how to tackle it completely once you’ve arrived.

Here are a few tips…

BEATING JET LAG

1. Opt for the red-eye. If possible, schedule your flight so you’re sleeping when your body feels like it should be sleeping. Overnight flights allow more time for the body’s circadian rhythms to adapt.

2. Stay hydrated. Pressurized airplane cabins have the ability to drastically dehydrate the body and when you’re dehydrated, you don’t feel well. Keep sipping water throughout the flight.

3. Start a few days before the trip. If you’re going to be undergoing a long haul flight, it often helps to get your body used to the time zone changes ahead of time. Plan meals and bedtimes around the new time zone. This works especially well for young children who might not understand why they feel so bad after a long plane ride.

4. Avoid caffeine. While it’s tempting to keep the coffee supply coming, caffeine can be both dehydrating and disrupt normal sleep patterns.

5. Sleep on the plane. For this one, some people can and some people can’t. For those that can’t, ask your doctor about a prescription short acting sleep aid to get your body enough rest.

6. Avoid alcohol. Another major actor for dehydration and ruining sleep rhythms.

7. Set your watch to destination time and pretend you’re already there. This works very well for most people to decrease jet lag symptoms. As soon as you’ve on the plane, your watch and your mind are working together to put you in the new time zone.

But what if you’re already suffering from jet lag – is there any hope for relief? Yes!

TREATING JET LAG

1. Try over-the-counter melatonin. Melatonin is naturally secreted in our bodies and helps regulate our circadian rhythms so that we sleep at night. The suggested dose is 3 milligrams of melatonin an hour or two before bedtime at your destination. Then give yourself at least 9-10 hours to rest completely. You may wake earlier, but your body will have gotten the rest it needs.

2. Sunshine. Get outside in the sun as much as possible. Normal daylight will stimulate the body to produce chemicals you need for clearer brain function.

3. Take off your shoes and try earthing. While there isn’t a great deal of science to back this one up, many travelers find that putting one’s bare feet on the ground at your destination will stop jet lag in its’ tracks. It should be the actual ground outside and not a floor, and walking around for a few minutes wiggling your toes in the grass brings even more relief. I haven’t actually tried this one, but imagine it would be lots of fun.

4. Because a big part of jet lag is attributed to the body’s dehydration, sipping an oral re-hydration mixture may be the answer. Chock full of body-soothing electrolytes and salts, a product like RecoverORS can help put you back to normal. I also like RecoverORS to treat traveler’s diarrhea, heat exhaustion, sea sickness, and food poisoning. Overall, it’s a great travel health product to have around.

5. Coffee! The old standby that gets us through so many sleepy afternoons back home may also be helpful for combating daytime jet lag symptoms. The caffeine acts as a stimulant to kick the brain into full-functioning gear. Avoid too much caffeine after 3pm, as it may make it harder to sleep in the evening.

Here’s to Happy, Healthy Travels!

 

Lisa Chavis, RPh ~ The Travel Pharmacist

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

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jet lag

 

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

Get more great travel health tips as well as spa & wellness destinations on The Travel Pharmacist.

Learn more about the Travel Pharmacist Team – your Travel Health & Wellness Experts!

 

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5 Ways to Use the CDC Travel Health Resources for International Travel

5 Ways to Use the CDC Travel Health Resources for International Travel

When planning a trip out of the country, you’re faced with a long list of questions. What should you know to stay healthy and safe?  What should you pack? Do I need special vaccines before the trip? Fortunately, the CDC Travel Health (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) website has an extensive collection of easy-to-access resources to help you make the most of your international trip.

BEFORE YOU GO

VISIT A TRAVEL HEALTH PROFESSIONAL. If you’ve made your plans in advance, use the CDC Travelers’ Health “Find a Clinic” feature (www.cdc.gov/travel) to schedule an appointment at a clinic near your home. Ideally, these visits should be at least a month before you travel. Meeting with a travel health specialist first can help plan your schedule of vaccines needed and what medical precautions you may need to take.

GET VACCINES AND TRAVEL MEDICATIONS. Not only will you need to be up-to-date on all routine vaccinations, but there may be country-specific requirements and recommendations. Check the “Vaccines and Medicines” table for your destination to find out what vaccines you will need. Keep in mind that your doctor’s office might have to order the vaccine, so give yourself enough time.

PACK SMART. Every destination on the Travelers’ Health website includes a “Healthy Travel Packing List” to help you enjoy your vacation to the fullest. Using the list feature helps decrease anxiety of possible leaving behind an important item. From packing the right clothes to preventing diseases to treating minor illnesses, you’ll find a wealth of trusted information from the CDC.

WHILE YOU’RE THERE

BE IN THE KNOW. News reports of Zika, Noro, and Ebola virus outbreaks can be frightening. Look to the “Resources for Travelers” on the CDC Travel Health page to find information on current travel health topics as well as any health warnings of which to be aware. Here you’ll also find helpful articles on making safe food and beverage choices, preventing bug bites, road safety, and how to get medical care overseas. Travelers who are pregnant, senior citizens, and families with children will also find resources to make their time abroad safer and more enjoyable.

APPS ON THE GO. Use your smart phone or tablet to keep important CDC functions at your fingertips. Available for both iOS and Android, the TravWell and Can I Eat This? apps help you prepare for healthy travel as well as make safe food and beverage choices while you’re abroad.

TravWell lets you build a trip to get vaccine recoomendations, a “to-do” list to prepare you for international travel, and a customizable packing list where you can add, remove, and check items off your list as you pack. With this app you can also store travel documents, keep a record of your immunizations, and set reminders to get vaccine booster doses or to take medicines while traveling.

Can I Eat This? helps you avoid one of the Top 5 Vacation AilmentsTraveler’s Diarrhea. You select the country you’re in and answer a few simple questions about what you’re eating or drinking. The app will then tell you whether it’s likely to be safe. This app can help keep you healthy while traveling and trying new foods.

The CDC Travel Health network provides one of the largest and most trusted sources of information regarding your travel health – so use them! Visit www.cdc.gov/travel on the web, Facebook at facebook.com/CDCTravelersHealth and Twitter at @CDCtravel.

Safe and healthy travels!

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Dealing With Sprains & Strains

Dealing With Sprains & Strains

All it takes is one wrong move carrying that extra heavy bag or enjoying yourself a little too much on your holiday to find yourself with the minor injury of a sprain or strain. While not many of us will plan to endeavor a stand up paddle trip from Denmark to Norway it’s easy to twist an ankle or feel a painful shoulder twinge lifting your stuffed backpack, signaling a sprain or strain has occurred. Knowing what your injury is and how to treat it is the first course of action. Read on to learn the best treatments for getting up and going again!

Know the difference between sprains and strains

A sprain involves the ligaments around a joint. With a sprain you stretch the ligaments that connect bone to bone along a joint. This area will often start swelling very quickly and a bruise may appear.

An ankle sprain showing signs of bruising

An ankle sprain showing signs of bruising

A strain involves the muscle itself. The muscle may be stretched, or even torn. Strains can involve major muscle groups or the tendons that attach the muscle to the bone. You’ll know these by the sharp pain and tenderness of the spot of the injury. Bruising and swelling are generally minimal.

How are sprains and strains treated?

Resting the area as soon as the injury occurs will prevent more damage. For the first twenty-four hours remember the R-I-C-E treatment. Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation. After twenty-four to forty-eight hours, warm soaks help increase blood circulation and loosens tight muscles. Keeping the body part as still as possible for a few days is the best way to ease the pain.

Over-The-Counter (OTC) treatments

When you’re on the go and it’s impossible to stay put for a few days, you’ll need to find pain relief at the pharmacy. The availability of OTC products will vary from country to country. A stop into any local pharmacy should help you identify what might be available for your specific location. Anti-inflammatory medicines (like ibuprofen, aspirin, ketoprofen, or naproxen) help a great deal in bringing down painful joint, muscle, or tendon inflammation. These can be irritating to the stomach, so be sure to take them with a meal or a snack.

Prescription Treatments

If the initial pain or swelling doesn’t get better after three days or if you are not able to put any weight on the area at all, it is a good idea to give the doctor a call. There may be more serious injury that only an x-ray can pick up. Your doctor may prescribe a pain medication or muscle relaxant for short term use. Some of these medications can make you very sleepy or groggy so use care when doing any activities that require concentration like driving a vehicle.

The availability of some of the medication suggestions here will vary from country to country. If your injury requires something more than an OTC product a local physician should be able to prescribe the best available treatment.

Happy, Healthy Travels!

The Traveling Pharmacist

Get more great travel health tips as well as spa & wellness destinations on The Traveling Pharmacist.

Learn more about the Travel Pharmacist Team – your Travel Health & Wellness Experts!

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

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