Friday, January 16, 2009

You'll Need More Than Sunscreen

Tips for Traveling Overseas

The suitcase is laid out. The perfect outfits have been chosen and the list of what not to forget has been made. You've been anxiously awaiting this trip, but more than sunscreen will be needed to help ensure your vacation is a time of relaxation and not frustration. "The most important thing to consider when planning a trip is what health risks exist at your destination(s)," said Dr. Bert Lopansri, medical director of the Loyola University Health System International Medicine and Traveler's Immunization Clinic "At the Loyola Traveler's clinic, we provide comprehensive pre-travel service which includes identification of health risks at each stop of a traveler's itinerary and a personalized plan to reduce risks." Even when going on a cruise or to resorts travelers need to stay aware of their surroundings and possible hazards. "Just because it says resort or five-star hotel doesn't mean it's safe," said Laura Gonzalez, RN. "You still need to watch what you eat, protect against insect bites and don't go out at night alone." Good hygiene and hand washing is critical when traveling. The clinic recommends packing sanitizing wipes, not the gel, so you can wipe eating utensils as well as your hands. The clinic staff also cautions travelers to stay away from buffets. Though precautions need to be taken to avoid illness from infectious diseases, according to Lopansri complications from pre-existing conditions and injury abroad are also health risks for travelers. "Education is so important when traveling overseas," said Janice Duffy, RN. "Our expertise in immunizations, precautions and preparations for each location will help you know exactly what you need." To get you started, the Loyola International Medicine and Traveler's Clinic offers 10 tips for overseas travel. 1. Plan for a healthy trip. Consult with your physician and dentist for routine care and medicine supplies, and visit the Loyola Traveler's Clinic for an assessment of health risks abroad and an individualized plan of care which may include vaccines and medicines 2. Prepare for jet lag and high altitude destinations, and stay hydrated and rested 3. Protect yourself from insect and animal bites 4. Be careful what you drink. In developing nations avoid drinking tap and water and having ice cubes in your beverages 5. Be careful what you eat. Make sure meats and vegetables are thoroughly cooked 6. If steps 4 and 5 fail, manage diarrhea with fluids, anti-motility agents and, if needed, antibiotics 7. Don’t bring certain things back home. Avoid risky behaviors including unprotected sex, getting tattoos, using drugs and having acupuncture 8. In tropical destinations avoid swimming in fresh water and walking barefoot 9. Be smart with your safety. Use alcohol in moderation, leave the expensive items at home, avoid traveling alone at night and be careful with your mode of transportation 10. Be sensitive to the culture(s) you visit

"Remember that preventative measures reduce the risk of injury and illness, but doesn't eliminate it," said Lopansri. "Fever after return from the tropics requires immediate medical attention." To make an appointment at the International Medicine and Traveler's Immunization Clinic call (888) LUHS-888.

About Loyola University Health System

Loyola University Health System (LUHS) is part of Trinity Health. Based in the western suburbs of Chicago, LUHS is a quaternary care system with a 61-acre main medical center campus, the 36-acre Gottlieb Memorial Hospital campus and more than 30 primary and specialty care facilities in Cook, Will and DuPage counties. Loyola University Medical Center’s campus is conveniently located in Maywood, 13 miles west of Chicago’s Loop and 8 miles east of Oak Brook, Ill. At the heart of the medical center campus is a 559-licensed-bed hospital that houses a Level 1 Trauma Center, a Burn Center and the Ronald McDonald® Children's Hospital of Loyola University Medical Center. Also on campus are the Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center, Loyola Outpatient Center, Center for Heart & Vascular Medicine and Loyola Oral Health Center as well as Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, Loyola University Chicago Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing and the Loyola Center for Fitness. Loyola's Gottlieb campus in Melrose Park includes the 255-licensed-bed community hospital, the Professional Office Building housing 150 private practice clinics, the Adult Day Care, the Gottlieb Center for Fitness, Loyola Center for Metabolic Surgery and Bariatric Care and the Loyola Cancer Care & Research at the Marjorie G. Weinberg Cancer Center at Melrose Park.

Trinity Health is a national Catholic health system with an enduring legacy and a steadfast mission to be a transforming and healing presence within the communities we serve. Trinity is committed to being a people-centered health care system that enables better health, better care and lower costs. Trinity Health has 88 hospitals and hundreds of continuing care facilities, home care agencies and outpatient centers in 21 states and 119,000 employees.