Pharmacists' role in maintaining your health during travel

Before leaving on vacation, we try to prepare for every eventuality. With your pharmacist’s help, you can prevent or resolve certain health issues during travel.

Health—a valuable asset during travel

For many, there is nothing more exciting than foreign travel. The prospect of breathtaking landscapes and unforgettable moments makes us happy while we tend to our preparations and make a list of things to remember.

Some diseases are typically known to strike during travel or once you return home. These diseases are sometimes due to a germ-related infection, such as a virus, bacteria or parasite. They can also result from an unusual activity practised during a trip. The most memorable moments of a trip should never be that of medical problems!

Fortunately, several "typical" illnesses experienced by travellers can be prevented thanks to a few precautionary measures. Your pharmacist can play a pivotal role in maintaining your health during travel.

Health—a valuable asset during travel

Traveller's diarrhea

In exotic destinations, most gastrointestinal infections are contracted through ingestion of contaminated water or food, or contact with contaminated persons or objects. Although traveller's diarrhea is not life threatening, it can spoil a vacation. Most often, it results from a bacterial infection. It sometimes requires the use of an antibiotic treatment and, more rarely, hospitalization.

The risk of contracting traveller's diarrhea varies depending on the destination. By choosing food carefully, a traveller can limit the risk of severe diarrhea. Basic hand hygiene significantly lowers the probability of being infected—adequate handwashing with soap and water or the use of an alcohol-based hand sanitizer are beneficial. Additionally, there is an oral vaccine on the market that can be taken before you leave on a trip. Your pharmacist can inform you about its advantages and inconveniences.

Pharmacists can prescribe an antibiotic treatment to be taken in the case of traveller's diarrhea. To do this, they must ask you questions during an individual consultation. They will check if you meet certain criteria and determine the most suitable treatment. Consultation fees may apply.

Malaria

In some areas of the world, insects carry diseases that can be transmitted to humans. This is the case for malaria, a potentially serious infection transmitted by a type of mosquito that bites during the night.

When visiting a high risk destination, it is important to apply certain preventive measures. Sleeping under a mosquito net and using insect repellent can help to protect against potential insect bites.

Malaria is a disease that can be avoided by following a preventive drug treatment. The treatment must be started up to one week prior to departure and lasts up to four weeks following the person's return. It is important to closely follow dosage instructions to ensure optimal protection.

Pharmacists can prescribe this type of treatment before you leave on a trip, if needed. Prior to your departure, they will ask you a number of questions during a consultation. They will check if you meet certain criteria and determine if it is appropriate to prescribe this type of treatment depending on your situation and the destination you visit. Consultation fees may apply.

Malaria

Acute mountain sickness

Travelling at high altitudes is a challenge that many people seek. However, it is important for people venturing into the mountains to be aware that they must allow their bodies to adjust to altitude changes to avoid an unpleasant condition called acute mountain sickness.

This is a temporary condition that results from inadequate acclimation to a lowered level of oxygen when in high altitude. The higher a person climbs the more the total barometric pressure and the partial pressure of oxygen decrease. This lack of oxygen causes lowered physical performance, hyperventilation, and other symptoms (fatigue, weakness, vertigo, headaches, dizziness, etc.).

It’s a good idea to learn more about preventive measures before your departure to be able to recognize the onset of acute mountain sickness symptoms, so you can adjust and prevent them from worsening.

Pharmacists can prescribe a preventive treatment for acute mountain sickness, if needed. Prior to your departure, they will ask you a number of questions during a consultation. They will check if you meet certain criteria and determine if it is the appropriate treatment. Consultation fees may apply.

Vaccination

Getting vaccinated in preparation for a trip is key. The decision whether or not to be vaccinated can have significant consequences. Vaccines protect us from various germs that can cause transient or irreversible damage. Some destinations carry a particularly high risk of infectious diseases such as hepatitis, yellow fever, and typhoid fever.

The nature of the vaccines you should receive depends on several factors, including your vaccination history, age, health, lifestyle, destination, and travel conditions. Pharmacists are knowledgeable healthcare professionals who know a lot about vaccines. They can help you to make informed decisions by determining what vaccines are recommended in a particular travel context.

Additional information

Here are other examples of what pharmacists can do to help you prepare for a trip. They can:

Don’t hesitate to consult your pharmacist for worry-free travel!

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Pharmacists' role in maintaining your health during travel

We try to prepare for everything before leaving on a trip. However, unexpected situations can arise along the way—among them, health issues are at the top of the list. Find out how your pharmacist can help you to prevent health problems from interfering with your travel plans.
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