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Travel and Health: At a Glance

By The Manual's Editorial Staff, ,

Travel preparation is crucial, even for healthy people. Proper preparations are inexpensive compared with the costs of getting sick or injured while away from home.

Before Travel

Travelers should pack a travel kit and other items they need in a carry-on bag in case their checked baggage is delayed, lost, or stolen. Needed items may include prescription drugs, extra eyeglasses or other corrective lenses plus a current written prescription for them, and hearing-aid batteries.

Travel kits should contain the following:

  • First-aid supplies

  • Pain relievers (such as acetaminophen or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs)

  • Decongestants

  • Antacids

  • Antibiotics

  • Loperamide (for traveler's diarrhea)

Health insurance is important for travelers. Even with domestic travel, some plans limit coverage for health care away from home. Thus, travelers should know the limitations of their policies. The International Association for Medical Assistance to Travellers (IAMAT), a nonprofit organization, maintains a list of English-speaking doctors in cities around the world.

Travel health insurance, including insurance for emergency evacuation and care, is available through many commercial agencies, travel services, and some major credit card companies.

Vaccinations are important for travel to most developing countries and are required by some countries for entry.

Certain Medical Conditions and Travel

People with the following conditions should take special precautions while traveling:

  • Heart disease

  • Lung disease

  • Diabetes

  • Pregnancy

  • Severe allergic reactions

Did You Know...

  • Heart disease is the most common cause of death among international travelers.

  • Injuries caused by motor vehicle accidents are the most common cause of death among younger and middle-aged travelers.

After Arrival

Problems after arrival are especially important to prevent and avoid in international settings. Such problems include injuries, traveler’s diarrhea, parasites (including lice), and sexually transmitted diseases.

For traveler's diarrhea, knowing what is safe to eat and drink and taking certain precautions can help prevent it. For example, people should use bottled, filtered, boiled, or chlorinated water for drinking and brushing teeth.

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The most common problem after travel is

The most commonly acquired potentially serious diseases are

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