What to do if you get sick on vacation

July 10, 2017 | by Nina Lundberg, MD
Categories: Healthy Driven Life

If there was a top ten list of places you would not want to get sick, “on vacation” would rank pretty high.

You’re away from home, likely in an unfamiliar place. Maybe you’re in pain and you don’t know whether you should find a doctor or tough it out. It can be a vague, difficult decision to make.

These tips will help you know what to do:

  • Don’t forget to bring your insurance card on your trip. You may need it. If you take medication, write down what each medication is and keep it with your card.
  • Plan ahead. For instance: Going on a cruise? Bring remedies for seasickness, just in case. Bring a small first aid kit with ibuprofen, diarrhea medicine, an antihistamine, tweezers and antiseptic. Get prescriptions refilled before you go.
  • Call or email your doctor for medical advice. Talk to a nurse in the doctor’s office. Find out if they think your situation is serious enough to warrant medical attention.
  • Ask for a referral. If you need to see a doctor, ask your insurance company to point you toward a local provider. You could also ask your hotel concierge for a recommendation. Knowing where to go, if needed, could save you a lot of money (and, possibly, your life). Our Levels of Care guide breaks down where to go locally for health concerns, but this chart could work as a general guide in other locations as well.

Prevention should be top of mind when you’re traveling (and even before you go).

  • The American Chiropractic Association offers some great tips to keep you feeling well while traveling in a car or an airplane.
  • If you’re planning to travel abroad, schedule an appointment with the Edward-Elmhurst Health Travel Medicine Clinic at least six weeks before your trip. Based on your destination and your specific needs, the clinic can recommend and coordinate any vaccines or prescriptions you may need.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly and OFTEN (and follow up with hand sanitizer).
  • Drink plenty of water.

If you undergo medical treatment while you’re away, follow up with your primary care physician when you return.

With proper planning and preparation, vacationing should be a breeze.

Don’t forget to pack the sunscreen! How to choose the right product.

10 ways to stay active on your next vacation. 


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