Common travel health risks and concerns and how to protect yourself

Smart Travel Planning in the Time of Coronavirus - WSJ



While holidays are predominantly meant to bring up happy feelings and blissful moments, they do dome with major health risks.

The first thing you should do is to check up the laws of the country/state about traveling with your medical device. Also, you need to check with your doctor before you fly out to ensure it is safe to go through the security checkpoint metal detector at the airports.

These are common travel health risks and how to prevent them

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Diarrhea – this is one of the most common illnesses that is contracted during travel. the issue stems from bacteria, viruses, and parasitic infection. Contaminated food, unsatisfactory food handling practices, and street food are some of the popular ways to contract diarrhea during your trip. The symptoms can take hours to a few days after infection. To prevent this, make sure you stay away from raw foods and drink bottled water to reduce the risks. Luckily, you can get over-the-counter medication to treat this common issue.

Upper respiratory tract infection – a common cold is easy to contract regardless of what part of the world you are from. If you do, get OTC medications to ease the fever and symptoms like sore throat, runny nose, nausea, and the cough.

Allergies – allergies stem from a variety of different things but one of the most common is food allergies. Exposure to different food types can trigger different allergies in people. Some people have itchy mouth, eyes, and throat, and swelling but for others it will go as far as swelling, difficulty breathing, pain, loss of consciousness, and more. With simple allergies, you can use simple antihistamines but if it gets serious, you need to seek medical attention immediately.

Travel and health

Traveling with a medical device

If you wish to travel with your medical device, you need to plan ahead. Just like all other parts of your travel are included in your itinerary, you need to include your health issues too.

In most cases, the travel limits that require you to have strictly two carry-on bags will not apply if you have with you some medical equipment and supplies/ mobility aids.

Make sure you call and mention this to the airport beforehand. This is especially important for people who need to mobility aid or to transport your battery wheelchair. This makes it easier for you to get through the screening and pre-boarding checkpoints during your trip.

Thankfully, many airports offer security lines and screening points for people with special needs. The officers on such lines are trained to offer you all the assistance you can get and make your journey as comfortable as possible. Always mention to the screening officer when you have medical implants and make sure you carry the legal documents to back you up.

Mobility aids, medical implants, and artificial body parts can be affected by the magnetic fields produced by the metal detection equipment. These apply to people who own insulin pumps, pacemakers, and other medical devices. If any additional screening is required, the officers should take you to a private room to resolve the issue.

Can you travel with syringes?

Syringes can cause you serious trouble at the airport. In most cases, without adequate information the airport authority will assume you are violating the rules and get you into major trouble with the law or send you back to your country immediately.

This is why people with medication that needs syringes need to carry a letter from a legal health professional explaining the need and purpose of your medication and needles.

You are probably wondering why you just can’t purchase the items on arrival; in most foreign countries, it is difficult for you to purchase some prescription medications or even medical tools that you require for your survival.

Ensure you check out the airline and country regulations before you choose your desired destination. You don’t want to make plans and book a flight only to get stuck or sent back at the airport on arrival.

Traveling while pregnant

Pilot's Perspective: Travel Bumps -

Traveling while in this state can cause major health issues for you and the baby, but with careful planning and preparation, it can actually be safe. Even so, there are additional challenges and risks to put into consideration while you are traveling.

Pregnant women are among the group of people with the highest risk of contracting some infectious diseases and developing complications. First off, you should only travel between the 18th-24thweek window of pregnancy.  You are more likely going to get an obstetric emergency during your third and first trimesters, in which case you may need to seek out obstetric services.

Don’t make the decision to travel without a consultation from your doctor first. Factors like destination, the real purpose of the rip, activities planned, existing medical conditions, underlying pregnancy complications and length of the trip should be taken into account before you plan the trip.

Ensure you get the proper travel health insurance if you decide to travel while pregnant. Check for one that covers pregnancy-related complications and also hospital care in case your baby comes prematurely. Go to your healthcare provider for advice on getting vaccinated while you are pregnant. For the most part, pregnant women are advised to stay away from living vaccines like measles but inactive vaccines can be safe.

Malaria is one of the biggest concerns for pregnant mothers and their unborn babies, especially when you travel to tropical climate regions. You should therefore consider avoiding travel to such areas or get expert advice on the best anti-malaria prevention measures and appropriate medication for pregnant women.

Final word

Traveling when you have a pre-existing medical condition

More than 30% of travel-related deaths are caused by heart attacks. If you have a major pre-existing problem you should go for a thorough evaluation to ensure you are fit for travel even before you book for the trip. Aside from the adventure and fun, traveling can be stressful and this may lead to an increased chance illness if you have a pre-existing health conditions.

Doing research on location-specific health risks before you travel is very important. You should be able to find a guide on travel security in relation to the health risks that is specific to your desired destination. This will help you understand more the health risks you will face or be susceptible to when you travel to that specific country/location. You also get the chance to take up preventive measures and reduce the risks of medical-related issues once you arrive at the travel/vacation destination.

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