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Introduction to Medical Aspects of Travel

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

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Patient Education

Planning and preparation reduce medical risks of travel, particularly risks involved with air travel and foreign travel. Travelers should carry their drugs, extra eyeglasses or other corrective lenses (as well as a current written prescription for either), and hearing-aid batteries in a carry-on bag in case their checked baggage is delayed, lost, or stolen. Drugs should be kept in their original labeled containers. Travelers who need to carry opioids, syringes, or large amounts of drugs should have a prescription or verifying letter from a physician to avoid possible security or customs complications. A medical record summary (including ECG for those with significant cardiac history) is invaluable if a traveler becomes ill. Travelers subject to disabling illness (eg, epilepsy) or those with chronic disease should wear a medical identification bracelet or necklace.