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.

EAT CLEAN for 2018! As Close To Nature As Possible

It’s a brand new year. A clean slate. Time to start a few new habits to live a healthier and more active life! We’re certainly getting on the bandwagon this year by trying to eat healthier foods and make time for exercise every day. The picture above was taken while we were house-sitting in New Zealand – this was only one day’s take from the garden!

One thing we’re trying to do more as we travel is to EAT CLEAN. It’s a term you hear often, but what does eating clean really mean? It’s not about how often you wash your veggies, but about staying as close to nature as possible. Try to avoid processed foods from boxes or cans and instead pick lean proteins, fresh fruits and vegetables (organic if possible), and drink lots of water to flush your system. Sometimes this isn’t the easiest thing to do when you’re traveling, but a little preparation goes a long way to helping you stick to your goals.

Here are some specific fruits and vegetables to look for in the produce market for better health –

Skin Health – Look for bright colors to guide you. Sweet potatoes, carrots, kale, and butternut squash are all high in the powerful antioxidant beta carotene. Beta carotene helps shield the body from damaging free radicals that age our skin.

Heart Health – Red onions and red wine! Well, probably not at the same time…but, red onions contain an anti-clotting compound that can lower your risk of heart attack and stroke. Red wine contains the flavonoid called reservatrol to help bring increased levels of HDL or “good” cholesterol in the body.

Brain Boost – To help with memory…now where did I put my keys? Add an extra serving of beets to your plate. Beets help produce nitric oxide in the body, which open blood vessels in the brain. More blood to the brain is a good thing!

Mood Enhancers – To start your day off on the right foot, grab a banana. High in magnesium to raise your spirits and potassium to provide sustained energy, this fruit is a natural antidepressant. Also bananas are packed with vitamin B6, which is a necessary for making the body’s level of neurotransmitters, like serotonin, higher. So much goodness in a portable package.

Food is our fuel and food can be what brings us together. However, making good choices about what we eat is a struggle for us when we travel. Hopefully together we can lend encouragement to others who may be going through the same dilemma – should I have the apple pie or would I be just as happy with an apple? EAT CLEAN. We know what’s best for us, but sometimes making the right decision is hard.

How do you manage to eat healthy when you’re traveling or even when you’re home?

Happy, Healthy Travels for 2018!

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!


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

I Found A Strange Pill! Now What? – Pill Identifiers

pill identifiers - the travel pharmacist

This is how it usually happens. You’re looking for quarters under the sofa cushions or rummaging to find your dropped sunglasses under the car seat – and you find a stray tablet or capsule. You can’t, for the life of you, remember what it was or where it came from. Is this a vitamin? An aspirin? Or a prescription medication you filled last fall?

Or, you open up your prescription from the pharmacy and the pills look different. Was this a mistake or perhaps the pharmacy has changed companies that make your tablets – there are LOTS of different generic companies out there. How would you know for sure?

Or, you’re putting up the laundry in your daughter’s room and come upon several stray capsules in a bag. She doesn’t get home until later and your curiosity won’t let you rest until you know what they are used for.

All of these scenarios are times when a pill identifier comes in very handy. Pill identifiers can bring peace of mind when you’re not quite sure or give you valuable information in case of an accidental overdose. They use a national database of drugs and their specific identifications – like imprints, colors and  shapes. You simply type in what you see on the tablet or capsule and your result pops right up!

On-line pill identifiers that I use quite often and trust are listed below. Pill Identification Wizard

WebMD Pill Identification Tool

National Library of Medicine Pill Box

If you can’t find what you need on these web sites, don’t hesitate to give your healthcare provider a call right away. It’s important to be absolutely sure before taking any medications. Your health is the top priority!

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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Gout and Travel – Avoid Flares That Can Ruin Your Vacation

gout and travel

How can one small toe hurt so badly? As a pharmacist, this is a question I’m often asked by those who suffer from GOUT. When dealing with gout, it feels as though all the pain in the world is concentrated in that one little toe. Living with gout can be a daunting experience – so travelers with gout need to be extra vigilant to ensure their vacation time isn’t compromised by pain. Gout and travel bring a new set of concerns that must be dealt with daily. Here is the information you need to cross the misery of gout off of your travel to-do list!

Few words are more capable of striking fear into a traveler than “GOUT FLARE”. Imagine feeling as though you have ground glass in your joints with every step you take? The pain of gout can bring a grown man to tears and seriously hamper a good vacation. Here are ways to keep gout out of your life as well as treatment options for minimizing the down-time if an attack occurs while you’re traveling.

What is gout?

Gout is a type of arthritis in which a crystallized form of uric acid builds up in the joints if the kidneys become overloaded and cannot filter it from the blood. Uric acid is produced in the body when it breaks down a naturally found substance called purines. Gout can be triggered by certain foods (like seafood, fatty meats, and alcohol), certain medications (diuretics, aspirin), obesity or stress. It occurs most often in the joint of the big toe, but can affect any major joint in the body. The pain level generally increases very quickly and soon the affected joint is swollen, warm to the touch, and tender. Because the pain can be so severe, you may also feel as though you have flu-like symptoms of fever, chills, and body aches. This can last anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. Definitely NOT the way anyone wants to spend precious vacation time.

How is gout treated?

Non-drug methods include paying attention to what triggers your gout to flare. If you know large amounts of alcohol cause pain, alternate a glass of water with every cocktail at the wedding reception. Seafood feasts and heavy steak dinners might have to be limited to ensure a pain-free visit. In fact, a healthy, low-fat diet may be one of the best ways to find welcome relief from gout pain. Drinking lots of water will also help flush the excess uric acid from your system.

Munching a big handful of cherries has shown to be effective in lowering gout attacks. More good news from the Arthritis Foundation™ is that drinking coffee – a lot of coffee! – four or more cups a day – can significantly decrease your risk of gout!

Over-the-counter (OTC) anti-inflammatory medicines like ibuprofen and naproxen sodium are very helpful in bringing down inflammation and easing joint pain. Avoid taking aspirin for pain relief during a flare as this may raise uric acid levels and make it worse.

Prescription treatment for gout works two ways: acute (immediate) treatment and prevention (prophylaxis).  First, your doctor may prescribe medication to stop the pain immediately. This might be a short-term steroid dose-pack like methylprednisolone or prednisone that works by quickly bringing down the painful inflammation. Steroid shots directly into the affected joint may be required to ease the pain. Once the acute phase has passed, your doctor may prescribe allopurinol to help prevent further gout attacks from occurring. This medication works by decreasing the amount of uric acid the body makes.

So my best advice for full vacation enjoyment is to avoid (or enjoy in moderation) the things that might trigger a gout attack and if you’re prone to flares, be sure you have medicine on hand to treat the symptoms. Those vacation days are more valuable than gold! Take care.

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.


Who is The Travel Pharmacist Team?


7 Tips For Healthy Travel to Greece for #TBEX

The Travel Pharmacist

travel pharmacistWoo HOO! It’s almost time for the 2014 European TBEX Conference in Athens! Bring out the lists of where to stay and what to do, but how about “How to Stay Healthy” while enjoying all the fun? Here’s where The Travel Pharmacist can help!

Athens Travel Health Tips

1. Know the Top 5 Vacation Illnesses and How to Avoid Them. If, by chance, you’re not feeling 100% after all of the delicious and unique food choices, be sure to pack a few extra supplies, like loperamide or omeprazole. Just in case!

2. The weather is quite sunny both in Athens and on the surrounding Greek Islands. Bring along lots of sunscreen and apply liberally. Keep up to date on the latest products and how to use them to your best advantage with Sun Safety Tips.

3. Many of you will be on long haul flights into Greece and the last thing you’ll want to be is to be sidelined with jet lag. Here are some tips for both avoiding and treating this pesky travel baggage – Beat Jet Lag.

4. How NOT to pick up Travelers’ Diarrhea may be one of the most important articles you’ll read for travel health and your trip to Greece. You can’t be too careful where your stomach is concerned.

5. Those long haul flights into Athens can cause a serious condition called Deep Vein Thrombosis. Learn how to use compression socks properly and stay active while enduring long hours on a plane.

6. When you arrive in Athens, the real fun begins. You’ll be attending TBEX conferences, meeting new friends, and savoring all that’s wonderful about Greece. Don’t let INSOMNIA rob you of precious time networking. Know the Sleep Tips to ensure a good night’s rest.

7. Travel is a wonderful time to try new foods. Be sure to include a few of the Top 5 Happy Foods to help keep that smile plastered on your face! 🙂 Because the most important thing to do at TBEX Athens is to have fun. This will be our third TBEX conference and we’re so excited to meet new friends and old. It’s a great time and we hope you’ll enjoy it as much as we have!

Happy, Healthy Travels to Athens!