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The importance of being a health-conscious traveler


My husband often teases me for packing an array of over-the-counter medications and first-aid items whenever I travel, no matter whether the destination is a short drive or long plane ride away. So, naturally, today's Wall Street Journal article on how to prevent and cope with minor and major medical emergencies while on vacation caught my attention.

In the article, Paul Auerbach, MD, a Stanford emergency physician and author of Medicine for the Outdoors, offers tips for baby boomers traveling abroad. Curious to know what precautions others should consider when taking a trip, I contacted Auerbach and asked him about general tips for families, adventurous types and travelers of all ages. Here's what he told me:

Across the nation this summer, many families will spend their vacation days enjoying the great outdoors. What are a few precautions parents should consider in planning such trips?

In general, parents should prepare for blisters, sprains, dehydration and sun exposure, which are the most common problems. Parents need to be particularly careful with their children around water to avoid drowning episodes. They should also prepare their children for what to do if they become lost.

For the thrill-seekers who like to spend their vacations in remote, off-the-grid locations, what are some examples of items that are often overlooked, but should be included, when compiling a first-aid kit?

Electrolyte supplements for oral rehydration. I recommend carrying the product named elete. I also recommend carrying extras of anything that is really important such as eyeglasses, medications, bandages, etc.

Why is it important for travelers at every age to prepare for potential medical emergencies while on vacation?

People never think that something is going to happen to them. They will spend a fortune on gear, clothing and travel arrangements, yet not pack even a basic medical kit. The most important thing is your health so it is important to prepare for likely problems. If you are going to be at high altitude, anticipate acute mountains sickness. If you are going to be on a river raft trip, anticipate sprains, pulled muscles, poison oak exposure and sunburn. If you are going to be traveling to any underdeveloped country, anticipate infectious diarrhea.

Photo by keesleonardmaas

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