Tips to staying healthy during holiday travel

By Jerry Carino

Leisure travel skyrockets around the holidays as people visit relatives, use time off to get away or flee the increasingly cold weather. Nothing puts a crimp in a vacation quite like traveler’s diarrhea.

The ailment affects 10 million Americans each year, but the risk of acquiring it can be minimized by those who are vigilant.

“People eat wrong when they’re on a trip,” said Ken Bear, president of Passport Health, a travel clinic with branches in Shrewsbury, Piscataway and Morristown. “They’re staying in a resort where it’s hot and sunny and there’s buffet-type food that’s been sitting out for hours. Bingo, all of a sudden somebody has a case of traveler’s diarrhea.”

Passport Health specializes in immunizations for international travel and conducts corporate flu clinics and screenings, but Bear and his associates have addressed the gamut of concerns with travelers.

“Believe it or not, one of the biggest problems is automobile accidents,” Bear said. “People step off the curb and our instinct is to look left. If they’re in a country where they drive on the left instead of the right, it’s something you have to be aware of.”

Here are more travel wellness tips from Passport Health.

Traveler’s diarrhea

“In a third-world country make sure you are drinking bottled water, and you don’t want to consume any ice,” Bear said. “Eat fruit you can peel yourself like an orange or a banana, rather than something like a strawberry, which could be contaminated.”

  • Avoid purchasing drinks or foods from street vendors and carts.
  • Avoid raw or undercooked meat or seafood.
  • Be prepared to treat your own water by carrying water purification tablets or a handheld UV water purifier in your travel supplies.
  • Bottled carbonated beverages, beer, wine, spirits, hot tea and coffee are generally regarded as safe to consume.

For those who have contracted the condition, Bear recommends DiaResQ, a food specially formulated to quickly restore intestinal function. If the diarrhea persists more than a day or two, oral rehydration tablets or additional medical care may be needed.

“Diarrhea can turn into dehydration, and then you have a real problem,” Bear said.

Minimizing motion sickness

On longer car trips or in planes, lots of people become queasy. Here are some coping tips. ·

  • Using visual fixation (for example, watching the distant horizon on a rocking boat or sitting in the driver’s seat and looking ahead while in a motor vehicle)
  •  Choosing a seat where motion is felt least (such as the front seat of a car, a seat over the wings in an airplane, or the forward/ middle cabin or upper deck of a ship)
  • Keeping the head and body as still as possible.
  • Sitting face forward and in a reclining position
  • Not reading
  • Sleeping
  • Getting fresh air by opening a window, opening an air vent, or going to a ship’s top deck
  • Not drinking alcoholic beverages (because they can aggravate nausea)
  • Eating small amounts of low-fat, bland, starchy foods and not eating strong-smelling or strong-tasting foods
  • Avoiding food and drink on short airplane trips, especially on small airplanes

Other advice

  • Adjust to local time as quickly as possible.

“Jet lag is a given when you travel,” Bear said. “Don’t try to live on home time. Get into the routine of the new place as soon as possible.”

  • Make sure your immunizations are up to date That means standard stuff like MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) and Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis/whooping cough). It also means country-specific concerns like yellow fever and typhoid.

“A lot of diseases we thought we wiped out in the U.S. years ago come back because of international travel,” Bear said. “It’s about awareness.”

  • When in doubt, get a pre-travel exam or consultation.

Source: Daily Record | not affiliated with Aetrex Worldwide