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Thursday
Feb282008

Travel Choice Issue: Climate

Certainly you are aware of the climate at your destination. Will you go to a place that is warm or cold? Of course, you will protect yourself from heat and sun, by keeping your head covered and packing sunscreen and sunglasses. And certainly in cold weather, you will wear coats, hats, gloves, and scarves. There is, however, more than clothing that needs to be considered.

Illustration: Bert and Alice, our friends, went to Sicily during the summer. Bert was amazed that the heat did not bother him initially. However, in less than a half hour he suddenly became tired and his pulse was rapid. After about three minutes he was drenched in sweat. Alice recognized that his symptoms indicated heat exhaustion and dehydration. She insisted that he go inside and drink lots of fluids.


Tips to avoid heat related problems:

  • Wear lightweight, loose fitting clothes, hats and carry an umbrella.
  • Generously apply a high factor sun screen.
  • Drink plenty of bottled water before and while outdoors.
  • Schedule activities during the coolest parts of the day
  • Discuss with your doctors how heat and sun can affect your medical condition and the drugs you take.

Cold weather presents another set of problems. We all know that head covering is important, especially since you can lose 30-40 percent of your body heat through your head. Did you realize that heat can also be lost from the neck? That calls for a scarf. Mittens are better than gloves, because the fingers can touch one another for warmth. Those with heart conditions should think twice about walking outside when the temperature is below 32degrees Fahrenheit (zero degree Celsius).

Illustration: I was taking a walk in London, when the temperature plummeted to freezing. With each breath, I had chest pains, as the cold air was causing my blood vessels to constrict. I bought a scarf and wrapped it around my mouth. Then found a hotel lobby, sat down and took a nitroglycerin tablet, which expanded my blood vessels.

Some hints how to stay healthy in cold weather:

  • Cover to protect your skin and prevent the loss of body heat.
  • Wear layered clothing. Silk and wool inner layers hold in body heat. Outerwear should be made of tightly
  • woven water-repellent material in order to protect you from the wind.
  • Avoid activities that cause you to sweat heavily. Cold weather and wet clothes produce chills.
  • Stay as dry as possible. If in snow, be sure that all exposed skin surfaces are covered.

A good source for finding about climate affects on health is http://www.mayoclinic.com/health

Remember, we want to hear about your experiences and tips for preventing problems.

Monday
Feb252008

Should I Travel Abroad?

“60 years of age is the new 40,” is the mantra of the baby-boomer generation. We feel good and are eager and financially able to travel to far away lands. We travel at all ages and for a multitude of reasons, for fun, to see family, or to work.

In 2005, 40 million Americans traveled abroad. Surprisingly, approximately 45% of the US population has chronic illnesses, and over half of these have multiple illnesses. These ailments may be minor or serious. You can figure it out; people with chronic illness are taking international trips.

How about you – are you included in those statistics? Do you worry about getting sick while traveling? If you say yes, you are part of the majority of vacationers whose primary fear about traveling abroad is becoming ill. If you have serious concerns, then visit developed countries with modern health facilities and knowledgeable health practitioners.

I have lived abroad and did major studies on the health systems in such developed countries as: England, France, Germany, Japan, Hong Kong, Australia, New Zealand and Canada. My purpose was to compare foreign healthcare systems with that of the United States. I am pleased to inform you about my findings - each country studied has good healthcare; and in many respects outperform the US.

Monday
Feb182008

About

Hi, and welcome to our first of a new series of blogs, that we call TripHealthy.com! It is a site that we have created to open a dialogue about everyday health events that can and do happen to many of us while we travel abroad.

We know that you, who will join us in this adventure, are educated and experienced.However, you may not have learned about the pitfalls of international traveling or trying to access medical care abroad.

My name is Eleanor Feldbaum, one of the principal authors of this blog (others will be introduced later). I am a researcher and professor of health policy and health systems. My husband and I lived in Europe for four years where I taught and wrote reports and edited newsletters for the Financial Times, UK.

During the last few years, I have developed my share of chronic illnesses. Yet, I still travel to Europe and Asia. Andfriends, despite their illnesses, travel extensively. However, I am always astonished how unprepared they are for serious or even minor health incidences.

We searched publications and the internet to see if good health advice was available for international travelers. We found sparse information; some helpful, but mostwas misleading or erroneous. For example,the typical travel guide or health newsletteradvises you to bring prescriptions for your drugs, in case you run out or lose your medications. However, you are not told that you will face a foreign-tongued pharmacy clerk who either does not recognize the medicine prescribed or its dose, or accept prescriptions from American doctors.

We found that travel books were not helpful; after all, publishers worry that no one would buy a book that included getting sick abroad.

The US State Department may be a source for useful information. Its websites are excellent and helpful (http://www.state.gov/travel) example, the sites can help youfind an English-speaking doctor. But, the Department itself can’t help with immediate personal medical needs.

Travel agencies tell you about what attractions you must experience, but illnesses are not on their lists. Why scare away an economic source?

Your physicians may not be able to advise you because they may not be sufficiently informed to discuss a country’s health facilities and resources.

So where do we turn forsources of reliable anduseful information?

  • TripHealthy Blog
  • TripHealthy Webpage
  • TripHealth Links

This is the blog that introduces new travel and health topics a couple times each week, which will inform and stimulate discussions.And this is the Blog that YOU can tell us (and the other readers) about your experiences.

So, come back and visit….share this site with friends and colleagues. And we will have a series of interactive helpful and healthful discussions.

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