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Travel medicine and Yellow Fever immunisation

Travelling away from home for either work or pleasure can be a time of excitement and is often a source of stress. The stress of travel can be made worse if you are unprepared for health related concerns.

To be more prepared for the possibilities, it is helpful to bring along a medical kit that contains various over the counter medications, and may contain medications prescribed by your doctor. These prescribed medications would include regularly taken prescription medications, as well as other prescribed medications which may be recommended based on your particular health concerns and/or travel destinations.

OVER THE COUNTER ITEMS TO CONSIDER

Over the counter medications that could be helpful would include something for pain or fever. Ibuprofen (eg Nurofen, Brufen) or paracetamol (eg Panadol) are items that ought to be included in one’s medical kit.

Motion sickness is a commonly experienced issue, and can be brought on by almost any form of travel, including driving, flying or boat travel. Unfortunately, once you begin feeling the symptoms of motion sickness, it can be too late for the medications to work. If you are prone to motion sickness, it is best to assume you will develop symptoms, and take the medication before the symptoms start. Dimenydrinate (eg Travelcalm) and hyoscine hydrobromide (eg Kwells) are commonly available in your local pharmacy, and work well for many people. Remember that all motion sickness medications can cause sedation.

Antidiarrheal medications may become necessary, despite being careful about your exposures (avoiding tap water, ice made from tap water, street food). Most travel related diarrhea will eventually resolve on its own, and the symptoms can be managed with plenty of fluids, including electrolyte replacement products (eg Hydrolyte) and your own supply of an over the counter anti-diarrheal medication. These medications include loperamide (eg GastroStop, Imodium). If you have profuse, and/or prolonged diarrhea, high fevers, or note blood in the diarrhea, you should seek medical attention locally.

Other items that you may want to consider packing would be symptom relief medication for a cold (such as Codral) or topical anti-itch cream for rashes (1% hydrocortisone).

PRESCRIPTION MEDICATIONS

Be sure that you have adequate supplies of all your regularly prescribed medications. Your doctor can communicate with the pharmacy to help provide a maximum of 6 months of medication to take along with you. Taking a few extra days’ worth of medication could help you avoid be caught out if your trip is extended unexpectedly. It is advised to take all of your medications with you in your carry on to avoid complications of delayed or lost checked baggage.

You should always bring the medications in their original packaging, with your name, and your doctor’s name on the pharmacy label. If you like to use a week long dosage box, it is best to fill this up after your arrive, rather than having to explain the unmarked tablets to a suspicious customs officer. Additionally, your doctor can print off a health summary sheet to take along. This is a brief list of your current medications, allergies, immunizations and a health problem list. A document like this can save quite a bit of time overseas if you are in a position to require more urgent medical care. It is possible that your destination requires prescription medication that is outside of what you might normally need. These medications could include malaria prevention, altitude sickness prevention, and specific antibiotics recommended due to outbreaks noted at your destination.

For all overseas travel, even to commonly chosen destinations like Bali, it is highly recommended that you set up an appointment to review your medical travel needs with your doctor as soon as you have made your plans. Immunizations like Hepatitis A require up to 6 months lead time to complete the series. Some counties require documented proof of immunization prior to arrival, most commonly Yellow Fever. Terrigal Medical Centre is a certified travel clinic, and can provide all the necessary immunizations, including Yellow Fever, and proof (the Yellow Book) prior to your travel. The practice has access to a regularly updated database that provides accurate information on immunization requirements and recommendations, current disease outbreaks, and other possible issues throughout the world.

AND WHEN YOU COME HOME…

It is important to remember that, sometimes, we can become unwell from our travels after we arrive home. Malaria, for example, can take weeks to make someone unwell. If you become sick (vomiting, diarrhea, fever, skin infections, or respiratory infections) within days or a few weeks after you get home, it is best to set up an appointment to review your symptoms with your doctor, making sure to inform her of your recent travel.

ENJOY THE JOURNEY!

With a little work beforehand, you can minimize your risks of health related issues while on your trip. A pre-trip visit to your doctor, with appropriate immunisations and preventative medications, is a big part of protecting you and your travel partners as you work and play during your travels. Don’t forget to pack your own medical kit, and consider bringing along a health summary. Terrigal Medical Centre can be part of your trip preparation, so be sure to let us know how we can help make your trip more safe and enjoyable!