Summer is now in full swing, and for many of us that means preparing for a journey abroad. When gearing up for a much anticipated trip you’ll want to take every precaution necessary to make the most of it. Unbeknownst to many, there are medicines you can stock up on in advance to stave off common travel-related maladies.
Jet lag occurs when we take a flight that crosses different time zones, leaving our body’s circadian rhythm confused. Feeling extremely tired during the day or bright-eyed in the middle of the night can put a dampener on your trip, making it difficult to enjoy sightseeing and other holiday activities. You can combat jet lag using a range of different tactics, but you can also utilise melatonin. Increasing the level of this hormone in the body helps to normalise tiredness in the day and restfulness at night.
Confusion arises in the body when vision tells the brain one thing and motion tells it another. This can result in nausea and vomiting, and generally make you miserable until the motion stops. Even if you’re not normally prone to it, travel sickness can arise when you take a form of transport you’re not used to, such as a boat trip or train ride. You can plan ahead for motion sickness by arming yourself with patches or tablets containing hyoscine or tablets containing promethazine.
Diarrhoea can often occur when we consume bacteria that we are unaccustomed to. It can come on at the beginning of your trip or later in the journey, and can put you out of commission for an average of 2-4 days. If you’re on a short trip it has the potential to ruin the entire experience. Being prepared with an anti-diarrhoeal medicine and antibiotic to take on your trip can significantly reduce the severity and duration of a diarrhoea episode.
If you’ll be climbing past 2,500 metres you’re at risk of altitude sickness. No one is immune to it, although not everyone suffers from it. You can mitigate altitude sickness by ascending slowly with regular overnight stops, and also by being prepared to descend when necessary. Although most trekkers do not need them (and should not take them), acetazolamide tablets can be used to prevent and treat altitude sickness. While not a substitute for acclimatisation, the tablets can be used to help people who have to ascend without being able to go through the proper acclimatisation process.
In order to be ultra-prepared, consider where your trip will take you and see if you might benefit from one or more of the aforementioned travel medicines. It could be the difference between a pleasant journey and one that is uncomfortable or even dangerous. Add a round of travel sickness pills or antibiotics for diarrhoea to your first aid kit, for example, and you may be able to rescue the trip for you or a friend!
You can request the medication from your doctor or have a consultation with a regulated online pharmacy. These travel medicines are low-toxicity substances that can often be prescribed through a simple evaluation to rule out contraindications. The prescribing doctor can then brief you on when and how to take the medicine.
Do check the country’s customs regulations to see which medicines you can bring in, and if you’ll need to present a prescription for them. Of course, it is also important to bring a good supply of any medication you may be taking for a pre-existing condition.
Finally, prepare for your trip by checking destination-specific information to ensure that you’re up-to-date with any necessary vaccines and to follow protocol for avoiding illnesses such as malaria and yellow fever.