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Problems After Travel

By Christopher Sanford, MD, MPH, DTM&H, Associate Professor, Family Medicine, Global Health, University of Washington

Symptoms or problems that develop during travel and that do not subside by the time a person returns home warrant medical attention.

The most common medical problem after travel is

The most commonly acquired potentially serious diseases are

Some travel-related problems can begin after travel. For example, nitrogen narcosis (the bends) can occur after a scuba diver gets on the plane to go home. Some symptoms may develop weeks or months after a person has returned. Fever after international travel is especially common. For example, malaria often causes fever days after exposure. Although the connection between travel and new symptoms often is not apparent, information about recent travel can be the key element in making a diagnosis. Therefore, people should tell their doctor about any recent travel when they experience any medical problem.

Both the International Society of Travel Medicine ( and the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene ( have lists of travel clinics on their web sites. Many of these clinics specialize in assisting travelers who are ill after they return home.