A pharmacist can be a valuable resource for staying healthy while traveling, whether or not there is a chronic health problem.
Traveling can be stressful, complex, fun and difficult depending on the type of travel, distance, time zones and arrangements. Planning can make traveling a simpler and easier task. Staying healthy is important for all travelers whether or not they have a chronic health problem. Below are some guidelines and preventative measure a traveler can take to avoid getting sick and staying healthy while traveling. A pharmacist can be a valuable resource during this time.
Eating right can be tough when traveling. Not having healthy eating choices and having limited availability or airport prices can limit options. Bringing along healthy snacks such as fruits, nuts, and nutritional bars may be an alternative to being at the mercy of convenience foods. Be informed about the food available at your travel destination as well as the stops along the way. Stick with unpeeled fruits and vegetables when you cannot make sure the foods are well cooked. A good site for resources and information is Chronometer.1 This is a free site and can host a multitude of diets as well as track nutrients.2 Cronometer has the ability to track your diet, health and fitness bio-metrics.2
Sleep wellness during long travel days may present a variety of health issues. Early mornings, long layovers, and uncomfortable seats can disrupt rest and lower immunity to infection. An option pharmacists can suggest is to focus on comfort. Based on my experience, travel pillows, ear plugs, and sleeping masks can promote rest and rejuvenation. For long flights that transcend many time zones, a sleep aid may be a solution. Always consult your physician first, and when appropriate, several over-the-counter choices can be recommended, including herbal or nonprescription products.
Pharmacists are poised to counsel on the medications prescribed by a healthcare provider, offer choices and explain side effects. Pharmacists can also review the patient's prescription profile for any potential side effects with the patient’s current regimen.
Staying properly hydrated is essential. Having fluids available may not always be an option, so it is important to be prepared, especially if you are traveling abroad. Know the likelihood of getting sick from the local drinking water. When appropriate, use bottled water and avoid using ice when the water it is made from is unknown. Depending on destination, a condition known as Traveler’s Diarrhea may be a concern.
Traveler's diarrhea typically develops after ingesting food or water that's contaminated with organisms from feces that are infectious. These organisms can be bacteria, viruses and parasites, with the most common cause of traveler's diarrhea being enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli.3 The condition commonly presents with loose stools, an urgent need to defecate, vomiting, fever, and abdominal cramps. Staying hydrated is important due to loss of water from the diarrhea.
Most cases improve within one to two days without treatment and clear up completely within a week, but ravelers can have multiple episodes of this condition during one trip.3 Speak to a physician about medications that you may take if this condition arises, or it it persists or worsens.
There are many products available to aid in boosting immunity. Emergen-C, Zicam, and Airborne are some examples. The ingredient list varies from Vitamins C, B, and E to electrolytes, zinc, and echinacea. Pharmacists can explain and offer choices when patients ask about these products. Various dosage forms are available. Reconstituted powders, nasal sprays, liquids, and tablets are available and can be transported easily.
First and foremost, there are ways to make your flight more stress-free. Planning ahead can help you to avoid issues.
Nowadays, many people take prescription medications. Pharmacists can help patients with getting refills for their journey and proper storage, including products that require refrigeration. Patients with disease states like diabetes may have additional health needs to consider. Regulating your blood glucose on a travel day can be challenging. Having your supplies and medication can keep you healthy and avoid stress as you travel. Keep your medications properly labeled and close at hand. Putting your medications in your carry on is wise idea in the event of lost luggage. Many products today can assist patients in keeping their medicines stable for the long road ahead.
CDC Travelers’ Advisory
Pharmacists are knowledgeable about vaccines. In many states, pharmacists can educate and administer many necessary travel vaccines. Pharmacists can also explain the importance of the vaccine, its administration, timing, and storage.
Each person is different. Regardless of your health status, being prepared and knowledgeable can keep you safe and healthy while traveling. Always seek advice from your physician or healthcare provider. They can instruct you based on your individual health and medication history. They can even order prescriptions to take with you to avoid shortages along the way and to keep you covered in areas where medications are difficult to obtain. Keeping and staying healthy is for all of us, and the pharmacist is a helpful resource readily available to many patients. One last pearl to pass along is for people with health insurance. Check the back of your card and located the contact number. It is wise to see what coverage you have and if it will be applicable at your destination.
Table 1: Check List for healthy travel.
Travel site’s and alerts
Vaccines (If applicable)
Medication’s and list