Your passport to holiday health

Going on holiday is something we all look forward to. But many of us are stressed about travelling, especially when taking medication on a plane now that security has tightened

Pack most of your medicines in your hold luggage in pharmacy-labelled containers, but keep enough in your carry on cabin luggage to last you a few days. Take a copy of your prescription in your carry-on also. Restrictions apply to liquid medicine, creams, gels and pastes which are carried in the cabin. These should be less than 100ml or 100gm and packed in a sealable plastic bag; ask your pharmacist for a spare label and a bottle if you need it.  Children’s medicine and baby milk may be allowed in larger amounts but all liquids are subject to screening. Inhalers are allowed up to 50gm. For diabetics using insulin, a letter is needed from your GP; but disposable syringes are allowed.

We hear a lot about the danger of DVT (Deep Vein Thrombosis) on flights. This is a clot of blood usually in the leg which may occur after sitting still in cramped conditions. Other factors that can make you susceptible are recent surgery, obesity, varicose veins, dehydration and taking hormones or the contraceptive pill. To minimise risk, drink plenty of water, move about the cabin as much as you can and consider buying a pair of special socks or stockings from your pharmacy. If a clot forms you will have bad pain and swelling at the site, often in the calf. But DVT can also happen hours after you have left the plane. The danger is that parts of the clot may break off and travel to your lungs causing breathlessness. Advice should be sought immediately if this occurs and you will be given clot-breaking medication.

The other problem travelling can have is Jet Lag, especially when flying through different time zones. The symptoms include feeling sleepy and fatigued, digestive problems, lack of concentration and lack of appetite. You need to be kind to yourself and not overdo things but get into your new time as soon as possible. Try not to nap in the day and do expose yourself to daylight. This acts on your brain to reset your body clock. Also drink plenty of water with rehydration sachets.

Once you arrive at your destination other maladies may affect you such as travellers’ diarrhoea. To avoid this it is a good idea to take a course of acidophilus; this is a good bacterium which helps to combat germs picked up from different foods. Foods to avoid are uncooked foods such as salads; unwashed, unpeeled fruit; ice cubes; tap water and undercooked meats. Conventional treatment for this is rehydration sachets.

Insect bites and stings can be a nuisance and it is a good idea to pack some hydrocortisone cream to apply sparingly to the sting. If infection occurs, (bad swelling, redness especially if this appears as a red tracking line up the body) an antibiotic may be necessary. Preventative measures include wearing long sleeves and trousers, especially at dusk and the use of insect repellents. Natural repellents are Citronella oil, Neem oil and vapour rub. Try taking vitamin B1 100mg daily starting two or three weeks before you go. This is secreted through the skin and insects hate it. Also mosquitoes love bananas so avoid these. A chemical repellent is in the form of DEET bands; these do not directly contact the skin but can be used on the arms or ankles to give off a vapour which detracts insects. If the area to be visited is a malarial zone, then adequate protection must be taken to prevent catching malaria from mosquitoes.  Ask at your surgery or pharmacy which tablets are required. The regimes differ in different areas so always check this out.

Aside from these specific remedies, always remember to take a general first aid kit including pain killers, plasters and sun screen.

Take these precautions, relax and enjoy your holiday.