Planning a trip to a developing country or tropical area? One way to ensure you have a great time and avoid surprises is to include your doctor in the planning process.
Start by visiting your primary care doctor about four to six weeks in advance. At this visit, you'll want to discuss vaccinations and prophylactic medicines as well as have a routine exam. Here are a few suggestions of what to bring up at your visit.
Annual Medical and Dental Exams
While talking with your doctor about vaccinations and tropical diseases, be sure to collect copies of all your prescriptions to take with you. If you're going to be away for an extended time, ask for samples or get a larger quantity of vital medications that you don't have to try to refill anything in a foreign environment.
Similarly, be sure to see your dentist for a routine exam and x-rays prior to leaving, and have any necessary work performed so you can avoid toothaches and other preventable problems on your trip. Talk to experts like Summit View Clinic for more information.
Tropical diseases. The CDC publishes guidelines to help you and your doctor determine which vaccinations you need for the areas you'll be visiting. Be sure to bring your entire travel itinerary including countries, regions and town names. Vaccinations such as malaria may be recommended for some parts of a country but not for other parts.
Also, if you plan any special excursions, be sure to let your doctor know. For example, volunteering with locals may bring you into contact with different diseases than spending your time at an all-inclusive resort filled with American tourists.
Boosters for other vaccinations. When planning the vaccinations for your trip, you're not likely to immediately think about a tetanus shot or whooping cough. But getting up-to-date on routine vaccinations can be just as important as getting new ones. Check with your doctor to see if you should get boosters for tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis or seasonal influenza.
Traveler's diarrhea (more commonly known as Montezuma's revenge) is a common problem for visitors to developing countries. You're the most vulnerable during the first two weeks of your trip, so be prepared ahead of time. How?
During your doctor's visit six weeks in advance, ask for a prescription of antibiotics used to treat traveler's diarrhea. Some of the most common antibiotics used for this purpose are fluoroquinolones. Fill this prescription and take it with you in case you suffer a bout.
There are also a few non-prescription medicines you can take on your vacation. Bismuth (including Pepto-Bismol) and loperamide (brands such as Imodium) can be purchased at any pharmacy and may help prevent outbreaks or treat them. There is also some evidence that probiotics can help the good bacteria in your gastrointestinal system to stay strong and fight off foreign materials.
While you can't prevent all medical problems while on vacation in a strange area, some preparation can help keep you safe and make sure you enjoy your trip instead of suffer for it.
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