Travel Medicine

Monday, July 23, 2012

Do you travel frequently?  Are you one of the nine hundred million international travelers that journey to faraway places each year?  Did you know that one third of people traveling abroad experience travel related illnesses?  This should not come as a surprise since travelling at global scale exposes travelers to a huge variety of health risks.

The majority of health risks related to travel can be reduced by taking adequate measures before, during, and after the travel.  For example, one of the most common illnesses that people suffer from is diarrhea, which risk can easily be reduced by eating properly prepared food and always washing your hands before you eat.

While travelling to developing countries or rural areas, one should know that the risk of contracting illnesses in such areas in much higher.  Therefore, it becomes mandatory to get immunized before traveling to these places.  Similarly, for people travelling to developing countries, it is recommended that one should consider getting a typhoid vaccination.  Lastly, it is best to be cautious about diseases contracted from insects like malaria and yellow fever.  Travel with insect repellents and wear protective clothing to reduce the risk of such diseases.

A vacation can be ruined very quickly by getting sick.  People tend to lose three days (on average) during two-week trips due to travel sicknesses.  Moreover, around 20 percent of them remain sick after returning home and therefore, have to seek medical help.  Therefore, it is extremely important to seek medical advice when planning the trip.  The knowledge of physicians can help patients plan trips abroad.  This also helps prevent or deal with travel-related illnesses by providing useful advice and recommendations of immunizations and medicine that should be taken.  One should try to consult the physician at least 6 weeks before any major trip.  This will give one adequate time to get immunized and check for any adverse reactions related to it.

Furthermore, people travelling should also share the details of the trip with their physicians. It is important to the physician know about the traveler’s destinations, and places they intend to visit and the duration of time the visit will last.  This is important because the time of the year at which one will be visiting a certain area and the duration of the trip greatly affects the overall risk of contracting certain diseases.

Travel medicine is an emerging field because of the widespread increase of international travel and the ever-changing patterns of global diseases.  This means that the recommendations for travel medicine are modified frequently.  You should always check the status and emerging trends for infections to places that you wish to visit.