Delighted to be able to write for The Prevailing Woman magazine. Take a look online and/or order your paper copy of the Spring and Summer editions today at https://prevailingwoman.com
Here’s the article I shared in the Summer ’17 edition on travel medicine and safety:
Let’s discuss travel!
It’s become one of my most favorite past times with my hubby and a great way to relax and release, although I had a slight fear of flying. The more we do it, the less freaked out I am. A little prayer and on flight cocktail never hurt. If you’re like me, distraction is key. I have to take my music, laptop and a magazine to concentrate on so I’m not so focused on the turbulence or how high up we are.
One of the most challenging patient issues I have to deal with is swelling, otherwise known as edema. I have a large variety of patients, big and small, young and old, that come in complaining of this, even when not traveling. It’s sometimes on one side, both sides, constant, or intermittent. It can be due to something simple, or open up a gamet of medical possibilities.
Kidney issues can lead to swelling if there is lack of blood flow or strain on the kidneys. These two organs are most affected by conditions, such as dehydration, high blood pressure (hypertension), high blood sugar (diabetes) and drugs and medications. Renal insufficiency or renal failure can cause decreased filtering through the small tubules inside the kidney, leading to increased protein in the blood and water being leaked out, thereby causing swelling.
Being in high atmospheric pressures or stuck on an airplane for hours on end can do this, too. So, what can you do? Limit your salt intake is one thing. Avoid the French fries, salted pretzels and potato chips. Salt and sodium are like magnets to water, causing swelling. Another trick is to get up and walk around every hour or so. When I was pregnant with each of my two babies, we traveled internationally. If anyone here has been pregnant, you remember how much your legs looked like sausages. I made sure to do calf stretches often when seated and get up every hour to do a lap in the aisles. I made sure to get a seat as close to the aisle as possible, to avoid getting on people’s nerves.
If you’re prone to edema, you can have your doctor prescribe or you can find compression socks or hose to wear during travel. Drink lots of water and pee a lot, too. It’s all water.
Oh, and get your vaccines, people. Please don’t go all the way to another continent and not know when your last tetanus shot was. We would not like to be exposed to the malaria you brought back (tetanus doesn’t protect you from malaria, by the way) as a gift, please. But seriously, please see a Travel Clinic or your primary care doctor before leaving the country, so we can make sure you don’t need a prescription to take something weeks before you leave and while you’re there. Also, not all clinics carry all vaccines in their building. Vaccines, such as Yellow Fever and Dengue Fever, have to be ordered and it could take a while to get. So, do yourself and your doctors a favor and let us know more than a week before leaving for Africa that you’re going. You’d hate to put yourself at risk for infection, or worse yet, not be able to go, because you waited too long. It’s all about preparation.
Speaking of preparation, how does one not get sick with a cold or sinus infection while traveling? You’d do the same things you’d do when home—continue taking your daily medicines, wash your hands or use sanitizer, avoid directly touching doorknobs in bathrooms and taking Vitamin C, Zinc and other multivitamins. You don’t have to take antibiotics with you abroad, unless it’s Cipro to treat Montezuma’s Revenge/diarrhea or you’re taking malaria prevention medications. If you’re super anxious, taking some antibacterial wipes or disinfectant spray to clean your room and surfaces is reasonable, as well.
Lastly, some advice on sun tanning-it’s wonderful for your vitamin D, but not always wonderful for your skin. Even the most melanin-laden skin can succumb to different types of skin cancer—especially if you have sunburns. Please use sunscreen daily, with at least an SPF of 30. Reapply if you’re sweating a lot or in the water.
Most importantly, relax and enjoy yourself.