Preparing To Travel Internationally
About four to six weeks before you travel internationally, a visit to a travel medicine specialist or a doctor familiar with travel medicine is recommended by the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention to answer your questions and make specific recommendations for your trip. There may be specific health recommendations based on what your medical history is or where you are traveling that may be needed, including:
- Where you are traveling within a country
- The length of your trip
- What types of activities you might do
- Other personal matters such as your age, medical and vaccine history and current medical state
In a recent conversation, Franciscan Health travel medicine physician Kanayo K. Odeluga, MD, MPH, FACOEM, director of the Franciscan Health International Travel Clinic in Olympia Fields, Illinois, shared some information useful for those planning to travel abroad.
Q: Why Should I See A Travel Physician?
A. Travel doctors prepare the international traveler to travel safely, given that no travel is without risk. Our goal is to minimize those risks and allay the fear of travel, especially for first-time travelers, by equipping people with the information they need to be smart and safe travelers.
Q: What Services Does Franciscan Health Travel Medicine Specialist Provide?
A: In addition to providing inoculations appropriate to the destination, our pre-travel consultation includes destination-specific water and food hygiene information that will help the traveler avoid health risks. Some people may require supplies such as oxygen that need special airline approved oxygen tanks, or have other physical needs. We can tell them where they can locate any services and assistive aids they may need before departure or when they reach their destination.
Q: Does Travel To Europe Warrant A Visit With A Travel Medicine Specialist?
A: Yes. Depending on your destination, you will need location-specific advice. For example, if you are going to Switzerland, you may need information about altitude sickness. In addition, certain behaviors may put people at risk in given locations, and we advise travelers on what to do and not do.
Q: I'm Traveling To My Country Of Origin. What Can A Travel Health Specialist Tell Me That I Don't Already Know?
A: This group of travelers, visiting family and friends, is actually at the highest risk. In many cases, they don't realize, for example, they have lost their natural immunity to diseases such as malaria, during their time away from their native countries. Their health history may have also changed, and they may be unaware of diseases or epidemics that are new to that country.
Q. Besides Inoculations, What Are Some Of The Most Important Things People Receive From A Visit With A Travel Medicine Specialist?
A. I feel the most important thing is peace of mind. Most travelers appreciate having the information they need to go into a new environment. When you visit with a travel medicine specialist you’ll not only get the inoculations and advice you need to maintain your health, but also tips on security and cultural issues you may encounter at your destination.