White sands, azure seas, local crafts, a tribal drumbeat, hiking through the hills, a sunset safari, authentic spices, a tropical drink, making travel memories with family, posting pictures for your friends at home. These are the dreams of most travellers.
You’ve been preparing, perhaps for months. Your passport is up-to-date. Airfare, check. Accommodations, check. Activities, check. But what about that unexpected bout of travellers diarrhea? Or the onset of shortness of breath, nausea and headache that can be associated with staying at high altitudes? And what about that last tetanus shot you didn’t realize was 12 years ago (and thus out of date)? Could you be subject to a case of lockjaw, or worse? How about body aches and fevers a week or two after returning from your trip?
Maybe you’re considering pregnancy and wondering if it’s safe to travel. Do you need malaria prophylaxis? The guidebook said “yes” for your destination, but based on seasons and your activities, that might not be the case.
Travel-medicine clinic is essential
These scenarios and more can be addressed at a travel-medicine clinic, where you can get vaccines and necessary prescribed medications. A travel-medicine provider can determine whether you need malaria prophylaxis, then which regimen is right for you and your destination. A travel-medicine provider can determine if you need altitude-illness prophylaxis. You might need an antibiotic prescription filled prior to your trip to take with you, in case certain illnesses arise.
A travel-medicine provider can help weigh your risk factors based on your itinerary and medical history, then do a risk/benefit analysis with you, potentially saving you from a trip to a foreign hospital. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that only 23 to 66 percent of American adults are fully covered with the recommended vaccines. You might not be up-to-date on the basic vaccines for living in the United States, let alone oral typhoid recommended for your trip to Thailand.
All too often, we wait until there’s a significant problem before seeking medical advice. But there is a better way. As you prepare for your trip, make your health a priority. Consider seeing a travel-medicine specialist who can help sort through your priorities, optimally one to two months prior to your trip. You might avert a travel crisis by doing so.
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