Food For Thought: Tips for Healthy Travels

With the smell of firewood drifting through the night air, cooler temperatures, shorter days and daylight savings in full swing—often our thoughts turn toward holiday travels.

The world famous Mayo Clinic provides a multitude of medical services, but they are also well known for their Healthy Tips newsletter.

As a traveler, we may experience one or all of the below symptoms and you may find this information helpful:

Jet lag — Older adults may have more severe jet lag and take longer to recover. Travelers can minimize jet lag by shifting to the local schedule as soon as possible. Travelers may be able to avoid jet lag by adjusting sleep schedules a few days before traveling.  Good news-Children often sleep during long flights and tend to bounce back faster than adults.

Traveler’s diarrhea — Contaminated food or water, or even excitement, anxiety and jet lag can contribute to traveler’s diarrhea. It often strikes abruptly and causes four to five loose or watery bowel movements each day. In most cases, traveler’s diarrhea will go away in a day or two without medical treatment. Most doctors don’t recommend preventive medications such as antibiotics or medicine such as Pepto-Bismol except in special circumstances. The best prevention is good hand hygiene and food and water safety. International travelers should drink only bottled beverages or liquids that have been boiled. For food, the general rule is: “Boil it, peel it, cook it or forget it.”

Motion sickness — Travelers susceptible to motion sickness should consult a physician about over-the-counter or prescription medications. Some natural remedies have been shown to reduce symptoms, too. Options include acupressure wristbands, ginger tea or dietary supplements or aromatherapy.  (One of our Regional Vice Presidents swears that smelling peppermint oil is very helpful.)

Care before travel — Travelers of all ages, leaving the country can benefit from a pre-travel medical appointment, ideally four to six weeks before departure. The doctor will perform a physical exam and assess the health risks associated with travel plans.

In most cases, the patient’s regular doctor can provide this care. Travelers with specific medical conditions who are heading to Asia, Africa or Latin America may benefit from an appointment at a travel medicine clinic. There, care providers often have advanced training or, board certification in travel medicine or tropical medicine. While services at these clinics vary, many providers offer a comprehensive overview of health hazards associated with specific travel plans and detailed advice on how to stay well.

Be safe — Injury is the most common cause of preventable death among travelers. Common-sense safety tips — wearing seat belts, avoiding traveling alone or at night, and moderating alcohol intake — will serve travelers well no matter where they are.

For those of you traveling this holiday season we at Cadence Education wish you safe and healthy travels.

Credits: Mayo Clinic Newsletter