Once upon a time, a beloved jolly man with a penchant for delivering toys to girls and boys spoke about making a list and checking it twice. According to a Kansas City osteopathic physician, this advice doesn’t just apply to putting youngsters on a “naughty or nice” list. With holiday travel about to heat up across the country, Missouri Association of Osteopathic Physicians and Surgeons member Michael Brown, D.O., said the idea of making and checking a list can also be applied to preparing for a trip abroad.

“International trips require more than just a passport,” Dr. Brown began. “Whether traveling for work or vacation, it always helps to have a checklist that includes resources to safeguard your health.”

The family medicine specialist at Mosaic Life Care in Clay County noted that although there is no way to completely guarantee an ailment-free trip, there are ways to “lessen risk and keep your next trip on a path to good health.”

Pre-Trip Vaccinations

Dr. Brown suggests that before embarking on an international trip, individuals should either consult a physician or schedule a visit with a local travel medicine clinic.

“You want to make sure you’re aware of the vaccination guidelines for your destination and are up to date on routine vaccinations like influenza, polio, tetanus and diphtheria,” said Dr. Brown.

Since many travel vaccines require multiple shots and adequate time to become fully effective, Dr. Brown recommends visiting a physician at least four to six weeks before traveling abroad.

“Some vaccines provide partial protection after a single dose,” he shared, adding that physicians can counsel patients on other ways to reduce risks of illness while out of the country.

While reactions are typically minor and require only a pain reliever for low-grade fevers or cold compress to relieve soreness at the injection spot, Dr. Brown explained that serious adverse reactions, such as shortness of breath, tightness in the throat, body swelling or rash can occur.

“If a person experiences an adverse reaction to a vaccine, they should seek prompt

medical attention,” Dr. Brown stated, noting that the following websites can provide additional travel safety guidelines as well as highlight any alerts in place for your travel destination:

What You Should Pack

“While you can’t predict what will happen on your next trip, you can prepare for some health issues that may arise,” Dr. Brown stated, adding that he recommends packing the following key items:

  • Prescription Medication – Keep in original bottles and in carry-on luggage. Since some countries don’t allow visitors to bring in certain medications, travelers should check with the American Embassy or Consulate before departure to ensure all items will be permitted.
  • Copies of Important Documents – Copies of all important documents should be placed inside of every piece of luggage. If each piece of luggage doesn’t make it to the intended destination, having backups will be essential. Important documents include: passports, medical records (i.e., vaccination records), flight and hotel confirmations and health insurance cards.
  • Medical Supplies – A basic first-aid kit should be brought in the event of emergencies. Items to consider packing include: bandages, a disposable thermometer, insect repellent, pain/fever reliever (i.e., aspirin, ibuprofen or Tylenol), topical antibiotics and hydrocortisone creams, antidiarrheal medication, antihistamine and/or decongestant, water purification tablets, hand sanitizer (at least 60 percent alcohol) and sunscreen.

“Don’t let lack of preparation derail your travel plans,” advised Dr. Brown. “Having the right resources at your disposal for common ailments can keep a minor health issue from spiraling out of control.”

The Road to a Healthy Trip
Dr. Brown believes that staying informed and following proper health guidelines are essential to keeping travel plans on course.

“Travelers with a chronic medical illness should seek travelers insurance with assistance and evacuation coverage,” he said, referencing the following resources for more information:

“If a traveler returns from a trip and experiences any unusual symptoms, they should seek medical attention as soon as possible,” Dr. Brown concluded.

Preventive medicine is just one aspect of care osteopathic physicians provide. D.O.s are trained to look at the entire body and employ a comprehensive course of treatment focusing on the improved well-being of a patient’s body, mind and spirit. To learn more about osteopathic medicine or find a D.O. in your area, visit www.maops.org.

(Courtesy of Missouri Association of Osteopathic Physicians and Surgeons)

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