Travel Health Advice

Top 5 Vacation Illnesses and How to Avoid Them

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Do you know the Top 5 Ailments that vacationers and travelers dread most when away from home? And even more importantly, do you know how to treat vacation illnesses when they occur? With this handy list, now you will!

*Sunburn
*Insect Bites
*Headaches/Body Aches
*Upset Stomach/ GI issues
*Urinary Tract Infections

When traveling, you leave the familiar surroundings of home and go out to explore new and exciting venues. Unfortunately, these changes in environment can result in problems such as increased sun exposure, unfamiliar insects/allergic reactions, and drastic changes in climate that weaken our defenses. Vacationers are more prone to suffer from “vacation-itis” when their systems are hit hard by exotic or rich foods, irregular meal times, increased alcohol consumption and increased sexual activity.

Here are a few tips for taking care of these vacation illnesses before they ruin your good time away from home.

Sunburn – There is nothing more annoying than ruining your vacation by getting badly sunburned on the first day. It’s important to bring along familiar sun protection if visiting someplace where you’ll be spending lots of time in the sun. Use UVB and UVA sun protection for the lips, face and body when outside and don’t forget a hat or cool, long sleeves as extra protection. If you do get too much sun, packing a bottle of aloe vera gel with lidocaine will help reduce the pain. Put the bottle in the refrigerator or under cool water for especially quick relief.

Insect Bites – If you have a known serious allergy to insect bites, please don’t forget an extra prescription Epi-Pen just in case of emergencies. For minor insect bites or stings, bringing along an OTC antihistamine like Benadryl (diphenhydramine) will help reduce swelling and inflammation, but beware – it will make you VERY sleepy. Hydrocortisone cream is readily available in most vacation spots and can bring fast relief for itching from bites or rashes.

Headaches/Body Aches – Whether your body is hurting from an overindulgence of alcohol or overdoing it on the slopes, bringing along a pain reliever when traveling is a good idea. One of my favorites for headaches is the fast acting BC Powder which contains a pain-punching combination of aspirin and caffeine. For muscle and body aches, an anti-inflammatory product like ibuprofen or naproxen sodium will work to stop swelling commonly associated with tendon, muscle, and joint pain.

Upset Stomach/GI Issues – Nothing ruins a trip faster than an attack of traveler’s diarrhea or other intestinal upset. Foreign foods and water can wreck havoc on the body’s digestive system, so it’s always good to be prepared. One of the standards in our Travel Medicine Kit is the fast-acting anti-diarrhea medicine Imodium (loperamide). If GI issues are common when you vacation, consider the use of a probiotic like Florastor to help prevent and shorten the duration of travel-related stomach upset. It’s recommended that you take it twice a day, starting four days before, during and for four days after the trip.

Urinary Tract Infections – For women who are prone to UTIs, it’s a good idea to carry a product called Cystex. I recommend it highly because it not only dulls the pain of the UTI with an analgesic, but also has an antibacterial agent to slow the progression of the infection until you can see the doctor. It’s also considered an excellent preventative medication should you engage in certain behaviors (i.e. not staying hydrated, increased sexual activity, etc.) that make some women more prone to UTIs.

BONUS TRAVEL TIP! Avoiding Embarrassing “Jet Bloat”

If you’re flying to your vacation destination, be sure to be prepared for the “jet bloat” that always occurs at the most inopportune time. This happens when the body is forced to deal with increased gas volume due to elevation gains (the higher the altitude you fly, the more the gas in the body expands). Activated charcoal capsules, like CharcoCaps, do double duty to help absorb some of the gas volume as well as the odor.

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

Happy, Healthy Travels!

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