If you’re traveling abroad, a travel medicine specialist can help make your trip safer and more comfortable. Travel medicine is a relatively new and growing field of medicine devoted to preventing and managing the health issues and risks related to international travel. Scheduling a consultation with a travel doctor before your trip can address issues such as getting the necessary vaccinations, staying current on medications and preparing for emergencies while you’re traveling.
What Is Travel Medicine?
Today’s travel medicine is related to the more obscure field of emporiatric medicine, which is concerned with preventing, diagnosing and treating tropical diseases travelers encounter in regions like the Amazon rainforest. But travel medicine is now a medical specialty all its own, with specialized training for family physicians and others interested in helping people stay healthy while they travel the world.
Travel medicine specialists are concerned with all the health-related aspects of travel for children and adults of all ages. While most people might visit a travel medicine doctor before a trip, specialists in this kind of medicine also treat people for any travel-related health problems they might have after they return home.
Travel medicine physicians generally recommend that you schedule an appointment about a month before your trip to allow time to deal with issues such as legal requirements, the side effects of vaccines, refilling current prescriptions and making special arrangements for travelers with serious or chronic health conditions. If you’re planning an extended stay, it’s best to schedule your visit even farther ahead to make sure your health needs are covered while you’re away.
Creating a Travel Health Plan
To help you prepare for your trip, your travel medicine doctor may ask about your destination and any side trips you might be likely to take. That helps to plan the kind of destination-specific vaccinations you may need or to discuss other kinds of health precautions you might need to take, such as treatments for diarrhea or insect bites. Your doctor may suggest other strategies relevant to your circumstances, such as safe sex planning or health precautions related to the specific activities you plan to do, like scuba diving or hiking.
Travel Vaccinations and Certificates
Depending on your destination, you may need certain vaccinations against locally common diseases such as malaria, or to update vaccinations you’ve had in the past for diseases such as varicella (chicken pox), tetanus or rubella. Some countries require certifications for certain vaccinations, or documentation that travelers are free of medical conditions such as AIDS, and your travel medicine specialist can sign off on these documents for you.
Scheduling your pre-travel consultation well in advance of your trip allows for time to recover from any vaccine side effects and ensure that you’ve acquired the necessary immunity to avoid illness during your trip.
Medications and Special Needs
If you currently take prescription medications or need other kinds of healthcare support, a travel medicine specialist can make sure that you have the medications or devices you’ll need for the duration of your trip, or that you will be able to get them while you’re gone. You may also be given prescriptions to fill if necessary for problems such as “traveler’s diarrhea,” insect bites or other minor health issues that could arise during your trip.
Travel medicine specialists can also provide general information about staying healthy while traveling, such as best practices for eating and drinking, and avoid local hazards.
Whether you’re traveling for business or for pleasure, a visit to a travel medicine specialist can be an essential addition to your trip planning. Our travel medicine experts can help you and your family make the right decisions for staying healthy while you’re seeing the world.