At my Oak Park practice, travel medicine and travel risk management are always on the agenda. If you plan to go abroad -- or even to plenty of places in the U.S. -- a comprehensive, unhurried conversation with your doctor is definitely called for.
A pretravel consultation includes prevention of infections, prescribed medications to bring in case of emergency, and coping with hazardous terrain, for starters.
Your doctor should be alerted as to your whereabouts, too, just in case. For example, we provide information on locations of clinics and hospitals at your destination in case of emergency. We also offer our members quick all-hours access to the doctor via cell phone and email -- reassuring, even if all you need is advice for common travel ailments.
You don't need to be a member of my practice to get personalized pretravel counseling and recommended vaccinations, though. And now's the time: your pre-travel counseling should occur well in advance of departure -- preferably more than four weeks, especially since some immunizations need time to take effect.
As a member of the International Society of Travel Medicine I'm in touch with clinicians all over the world, and have access to the latest updates in disease outbreaks, other health issues, and travel warnings.
It may seem as if just sitting around for hours in cars or on planes, and then enjoying beautiful places, wouldn't strain your health. But as many of us have learned, things can happen, even on vacation. Even commonplace problems like traveler's diarrhea or altitude sickness can become serious if they aren't effectively treated. You can easily prevent a case of traveler's diarrhea that could ruin your vacation. Your doctor can tell you what to pack in your shaving or make-up kit as traveler's first aid.
And these days, infectious diseases are more widespread and more aggressive: zika virus, chikungunya virus, yellow fever and dengue fever, for example, are far more common in destinations very close to the U.S. Dengue fever has even shown up in Hawaii. Other preventable illnesses including malaria, measles, and hepatitis A are also prevalent in other countries...but prevention has to happen well before you get on the plane.
Some travelers need special preparation, too: if you're pregnant, allergic, or have immune deficiencies, very young children, or other limitations, then go over your health needs in detail with your doctor.
Our members can arrange no-delay, no-rush office visits with just a phone call or email, as well as a very thorough, 2.5-hour annual physical exam. It includes consultation with a dietitian and a professional physical trainer. It's good to be in great physical shape when you travel.
And it's good to know that with some planning, your doctor -- or at least your doctor's good counsel -- can come along for the trip.