Your Health First When Travelling
Jan 26, 2016
By Barret Procyshyn, Pharmacist at the Dauphin Clinic Pharmacy
Even with a low Canadian dollar, Canadians still love to travel. Most of use travel to places with beaches, good food, cold drinks and most importantly warmer weather. While travelling to the USA is considered very low risk, our 70 cent dollar has people looking further south for better deals. However, along with the warmer weather often comes the risk for communicable diseases which are not present in Canada. This can put your health at risk. If you are travelling to a foreign country, consider your health along with booking your ticket and packing your sunscreen. By speaking to your pharmacist and other health care providers you can significantly limit your risks and have an amazing holiday.
Some countries do not have acceptable health care. While the beaches may seem perfect, hospitals may be difficult to access and pharmacies often do not have a trained pharmacist. You may go to a pharmacy for a stomach issue and have to talk to teenager claiming they are the pharmacist, while they are also selling tourist excursions. It is best to get your information ahead of time and take as much necessary medication with you as possible.
Hepatitis A and B are commonly found in developing countries, Mexico and in various destinations throughout the Caribbean. Hepatitis A is a liver disease most often passed through contaminated food, drinks or water supply. It can even be found in swimming pools at a five star resort. To limit exposure to Hepatitis A do not eat raw unpeeled fruits, vegetables or shellfish. Also avoid contaminated water by only consuming bottled water and by not using ice outside of trustworthy establishments. It is also important to practice frequent hand washing. Hepatitis B is a serious liver disease spread by contact from bodily fluids or blood. A simple yet effective and long term solution to hepatitis A and B is vaccination. The most popular is a combined hepatitis A and B vaccination called Twinrix. Twinrix, which has proven to be very safe and effective, is a series of either three or four doses which can provide protection for 15 to 20 years. At least two doses should be given before travel. If you have had Twinrix in the past check with your clinic pharmacist to make sure booster doses are not needed.
Travellers diarrhea occurs in up to 40% of travellers going to less developed countries. Most travellers will develop travellers diarrhea in the first week of travel, which could ruin a dream holiday. To avoid travellers diarrhea remember to boil, cook or peel your food or just do not eat it. Only bottled or carbonated beverages should be consumed. Street vendors should also be avoided, if possible. If you want to protect yourself against the bacteria causing travellers diarrhea, the Dukoral vaccine is a great option. Dukoral does not require a prescription and the oral vaccine provides protection for up to three months. If you have already taken Dukoral within five years, only one booster dose is needed.
If you get travellers diarrhea, immediate self-treatment is necessary. Antibiotics can be prescribed to decrease the severity of an attack. If seeing a travel health specialist or even your family doctor, find out if you should take a course of antibiotics with you. If travellers diarrhea hits it is very important to stay hydrated, by consuming carbonated drinks, canned juices, safe water and salty soups. Oral rehydration packages mixed with water are also effective. Always avoid caffeinated beverages. Travellers can also take loperamide (Immodium) to stop diarrhea as long as fever or bloody stools are not noticed. It is also a good idea to pack Pepto Bismol tablets in your suitcase as they have shown to shorten the length of a travellers diarrhea attack.
Typhoid fever is a life-threatening illness affecting over 20 million people each year in the developing world. It is contracted by eating food or drinking water contaminated with the unseen Salmonella typhi bacteria. Typhoid fever is more common in areas where sanitation is likely to be poor, so when travelling to Asia, Africa or Latin America, you can be at risk. An oral vaccination called Vivotif will prevent the bacteria and its symptoms which include Sustained fever stomach pains, headache, loss of appetite and significant weakness.
Travelling to more remote countries may put you at risk for Malaria, Yellow Fever and other rare but serious diseases. South American countries are currently having difficulty with mosquitos carrying dangerous viruses, most have never even heard of. Dont be alarmed, just be informed. Make sure you have the correct information for the area you will be visiting. Travel health information can be complex and confusing but you pharmacist can help you have a healthy holiday. Remember vaccinations are an extremely important insurance policy.
You can see our Facebook page atfacebook.com/clinicpharmacyor our website atwww.dcp.cato see a travel health checklist. As always, if you have any questions or concerns about these or other products, ask your pharmacist.
TRAVEL HEALTH CHECKLIST
-Vaccinations Updated for Area of Travel (May require physician Visit)
-Sunscreen (Minimum SPF 15) & Aloe Vera
-Bug Spray (for remote Areas)
-Loperamide (Generic Immodium)
-Pepto Bismol Tablets
-Pain Relievers (Acetaminophen or Ibuprofen)
-Oral Rehydration Packages (Gastrolyte or Rehydralyte)
-Hand Washing Solution or Hand Wipes
-Antibiotic Cream or Ointment (Polysporin)
-Travel Toiletries & Hygiene Products
-Prescription Medications & Medication List
(All products are available at the Dauphin Clinic Pharmacy)
Also remember to take your travel health insurance documentation.