A travel-clinic director offers tips for the queasy traveler.
Getting sick can be especially unsettling when it happens in another country. Matthew Klapetzky, travel-clinic director at the University of Rochester School of Nursing, shares tips on what to do if illness hits you while abroad:
• Pack a first-aid kit: “The majority of minor health issues that international travelers contend with can easily be self-treated with a good first-aid kit,” Klapetzky said. It should include anti-diarrhea medication such as Imodium A-D or Pepto-Bismol because diarrhea is the most common ailment among U.S. travelers and hits around half of them.
Other musts in the kit: ibuprofen to reduce fevers, muscle inflammation and joint pain; bandages in assorted sizes along with an antibiotic ointment such as Neosporin for cuts and wounds; oral rehydration supplements such as CeraLyte to replenish electrolytes lost through sweating and diarrhea; blister pads; and fiber supplements to ease constipation, also common during travel. Be sure to carry an EpiPen if you have allergies.
• Minor issue? Seek local care: If you twist your ankle or have another not-so-serious situation where you need to see a doctor, use local care. “Remember that the doctors where you are in the world are used to treating ailments specific to the region,” Klapetzky said.
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Travelers can find local medical care through the State Department website (travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/go/health.html) but be aware that the department does not take responsibility for the quality of service provided.
• More serious? In dire health situations such as a heart attack, Klapetzky suggested contacting the local U.S. Embassy, which can help arrange airlifts or other assistance (at your expense).