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Travel Rx

The heat’s on and it’s time to take a break. But before you head out don’t forget to plan ahead and be prepared for your trip. Here’s a list of things you should remember. Sanchita Sharma elucidates.

health and fitness Updated: May 10, 2009 00:55 IST
Sanchita Sharma

The heat’s on and it’s time to take a break. But before you head out don’t forget to plan ahead and be prepared for your trip. Here’s a list of things you should remember:

Prescription medicines

Carry prescribed drugs along with a copy of the prescription. You should also find out if there are any restrictions on taking your medicines in and out of the country you are visiting — medicines available over-the-counter in India may be controlled in other countries.

List medical conditions

Always carry a record of the medical conditions you have, such as allergies, heart condition, diabetes and the generic (chemical) names — not just the brand names — of the medicines you are taking.

Carry an essential medicine kit

If travel involves hiking or travelling in the boondocks, carry a medicine kit ready with some antiseptic cream, paracetamol for fever, mild laxatives, rehydration mixtures for sickness or diarrhoea, indigestion remedy, scissors, a range of bandages, plasters, non-absorbent cottonwool, elastic bandages and dressings for minor cuts, sprains and bruises, and a mosquito-repellent. You also need a sunblock, sunglasses, and if you use contacts lenses or spectacles, an extra pair of each.

Don’t let swine flu get to you

Though the World Health Organisation issued another alert this Thursday predicting that upto two billion people could catch swine flu if the outbreak turns into an epidemic, public health officials say the worst seems to be over.

The WHO has imposed no travel restrictions and just advises people to restrict non-essential travel in affected countries. The fact that the influenza A H1N1 virus that causes swine flu can be treated with the anti-flu drug oseltamivir (brandname Tamiflu) has helped contain the infection. Taking oseltamivir to cut risk makes the virus resistant to the drug, so it should be avoided.

Don’t cancel your holiday plans, but do take precautions like reporting flu symptoms to local health authorities for diagnosis and treatment after a flight from an infected country, observe high personal hygiene (washing hands frequently and covering the nose and mouth while sneezing or coughing) and avoid enclosed, crowded places in infected districts. These measures will save you from many other viruses that thrive in closed spaces too.

Reduce the risk of DVT

Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is the formation of a blood clot in one of the veins, usually in the leg. Sitting still for a long time in an airplane, train or a car can increase the risk. Exercises like rotating your ankles and wiggling your toes — and getting up and walking around lower the risk, as does drinking liquids of the non-alcoholic kind.

If you have ever had DVT, clots in your lungs, have a family history of clotting conditions, have had major surgery (especially a hip or knee replacement) in the last three months, suffer from heart disease, cancer or have ever had a stroke, you may be at increased risk. Ask your doctor for advice.

Health insurance

Many companies offer health insurance for travellers. You can often buy policies online or check with your travel agent, insurance company or bank if the level of cover being offered is adequate. If you are travelling on business, the company probably has insurance that covers you, but you should check to see whether it is adequate.

Some credit card companies provide some insurance cover for cardholders, but always check what is covered and what is not.

Before you leave, check the small print. If you have any doubts or concerns, contact the insurer.

Inoculation

You need inoculation against yellow fever if you are travelling to or returning from certain countries in Africa and South America. To find out about the differing immunisation entry requirements, visit http://www.who.int/ith/en.