Before leaving on your next trip, review these items to ensure you'll be prepared for the unexpected.
- At an altitude above 7,500 feet (2,286 meters), a mild decrease of oxygen in the blood occurs. This is usually tolerated by most individuals.
- Those with severe lung or cardiac problems may become very short of breath.
- For persons with chronic cardiovascular or pulmonary problems, most airlines can deliver oxygen at a nominal extra charge if provided with a prescription from a physician with a two or three days' notice.
- When scending above 8,200 feet (2,500 meters), mild nausea and mild headache, to a severe throbbing headache, confusion and profound shortness of breath may occur.
- Individuals with serious underlying heart and lung problems are advised not to ascend above 10,000 feet (3,048 meters) without supplemental oxygen.
- Many international air travelers may be exposed to insecticides sprayed in airplane cabins to kill insects.
- Tavelers with ragweed allergy may be at risk of developing an acute allergic reaction and difficulty breathing.
- Reactions are likely to occur with the use of pyrethrin insecticides, which are extracted from a plant similar to ragweed.
- As a preventive measure, allergic passengers should notify a crew member and request a wet towel or mask to cover the face. Breathing through the wet towel or mask minimizes the risk of an asthmatic reaction.
- Have a thorough dental examination and all necessary dental work done several weeks before leaving home.
- Wear comfortable, well-fitting and previously worn shoes.
- Wear loose, comfortable clothing in several layers, which you can modify as the weather dictates.
- Wash your hands frequently to reduce infectious disease transmission during travel. Soap and water will help remove potentially infectious materials from your hands.
- If soap and water are not available, use a waterless, alcohol-based hand gel containing at least 60 percent alcohol.
- Complete all immunizations prior to departure.
- Keep your passport and yellow immunization booklet together, and carry them with you at all times.
- Research recommended immunizations or visit www.cdc.gov/travel for a complete list.
Insurance and Travel Insurance
- Record names, policy numbers and telephone numbers of all of your health insurance carriers in case you require documentation of health insurance coverage while abroad.
- Determine if you are covered while outside the United States.
- Know the financial limitations of your policies. Most foreign hospitals will not accept U.S. insurance for payment. You may be required to settle the bill and seek reimbursement later.
- All travelers, regardless of their age or current health status, should consider additional insurance.
- Only specialized insurance will cover emergency air ambulance travel costs. Reasonably priced insurance is available. Contact your travel agent or visit www.cdc.gov/travel.
- Corporate travelers in particular should have a clear understanding of their employer/employee financial responsibilities regarding illness and injuries acquired overseas or manifested upon return.
Liquids and Gels for Airline Travel
- All liquids, gels and aerosols must be in three-ounce or smaller containers and must be placed together in a single, quart-size, zip-top, clear plastic bag.
- Exceptions can be made for prescription and over-the-counter medicines, baby formula, breastmilk, juice and other essential liquids, gels and aerosols.
- Carry a card and wear a tag or bracelet identifying any disease or condition you have that may require emergency medical care.
- If you have a history of heart disease, carry a copy of your most recent electrocardiogram in the event that you have cardiac difficulties overseas.
- Never surrender your passport or immunization booklet to any person other than an international health authority or immigration officer.
- Before you surrender your passport, determine the reasons that it must be detained, where it will be stored and appropriate methods for retrieving it.
Prescriptions and Medications
- Prepare a list of your current medications and drug allergies.
- Carry an adequate supply of prescription medications for the duration of your trip, plus enough for 10 extra days.
- Keep all medications in your carry-on luggage.
- Pace yourself and get plenty of rest during the trip. Fatigue is a major cause of serious accidents, injuries, poor decisions and illnesses abroad.
- Take an extra pair of eyeglasses or contact lenses in case of accidental damage.
- Also, request a copy of your eyeglass prescription from your optometrist, or record the prescription in your yellow immunization booklet.
- Know the climate and general weather conditions for the countries you plan to visit.
- Plain, loose-fitting, long-sleeved shirts and slacks are a necessity in malaria zones to prevent mosquito bites between dusk and dawn.
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