Health and Travel: How Can They Affect One Another?

Posted: Jun 23rd, 2021 at 12:21PM - by Ashlee Arnold

camera, map, pen, travel items

Traveling can open your eyes to new experiences and cultures, and it offers a host of mental health benefits. However, venturing to new parts of the world also carries potential risks, if you're not prepared.

That's why, when you’re planning your travels, it's vital to understand the potential health challenges you may experience based on your destination(s). This is especially crucial if you're visiting a new, unfamiliar, or remote destination.

Essentially, having precautionary measures in place can reduce these risks. Plus, it helps ensure that you know what to do if anyone falls ill or becomes injured during your trip.

Let's uncover how health and travel can affect one another and how to prepare for a trip.

How Travel Affects Your Health

Several studies show that traveling (or even planning a trip) is good for people's overall health. Going on long-term vacations or even weekend trips helps relieve stress and gives you time to recharge, thus lowering your anxiety levels and boosting your overall mood. Another study shows that traveling improves mental health because you’re exposed to a new environment with unfamiliar sights, smells, sounds, and tastes, which revitalizes your brain. Other known benefits of traveling include reduced anxiety and depression, improved sleep quality, and heightened creativity and productivity.

On the other hand, traveling also poses threats to your overall health and well-being.

Travelers are prone to exposing themselves to certain environmental and other health risks. This includes bug bites, changes in altitude, extreme heat and humidity, fluctuating temperatures, and animals, insects, or parasites – all of which could lead to serious illnesses.

The World Health Organization (WHO) adds that depending on your travel destination, you may be exposed to different infectious diseases. Often, these are caused by a lack of hygiene and sanitation practices, low-quality accommodations, poor medical services, and unclean water.

According to the CDC, some of the most common travel diseases include:

  • Avian flu (bird flu) – a virus acquired from infected birds that leads to mild eye infections, flu-like illnesses, and pneumonia.
  • Cholera – a disease that spreads through contaminated food and water and causes diarrhea, dizziness, nausea, and vomiting.
  • COVID-19 – an illness caused by the SARS-COV2 virus that leads to respiratory diseases and even death.
  • Dengue – a virus caused by the bite of an infected mosquito, leading to fever, internal bleeding, joint and muscle pains, rash, and shock.
  • HIV/AIDS – a sexually transmitted disease that leads to a damaged immune system, heart, kidney, and liver disease, and death.
  • Influenza (flu) – a serious illness that affects the respiratory system and causes mild to severe illnesses and even death.
  • Malaria – a disease caused by parasites that spread through mosquito bites, leading to high fever, flu-like symptoms, and severe illness.
  • Measles – a disease caused by a highly contagious virus spread by breathing, coughing, and sneezing, resulting in lung infections, swelling of the brain, and death.
  • Tuberculosis – a bacteria-caused illness that spreads via droplets in the air when you cough, sneeze, or speak, leading to infections in the blood, brain, kidney, lungs, and spine.

How to Prepare to Stay Healthy Before a Trip

Fortunately, nowadays, there are a lot of simple, actionable measures that help ensure you're well-prepared before any trip.

man backpacking in nature

Consult with a Travel Medicine Specialist

A travel medicine specialist can advise you on how to avoid infectious diseases and reduce the risks of acquiring diseases while on a trip. They'll also be able to make recommendations specific to your health care needs or existing conditions. From boosters and prescription medications to vaccinations, they can help ensure you're protected before your travels

We recommend that you see a travel medicine specialist as soon as you know you are traveling but at least six to eight weeks before your trip so you have plenty of time to receive any necessary vaccinations.

Research Your Destination

Every destination is different, so knowing the health risks helps you plan your itinerary and activities. Read travel guides, do online research, or ask people who've been there before. Be sure to consider the standard of their food and water, the climate, the rural areas and wildlife, and the insects around the location.

Stay Updated with Your Immunizations

As mentioned, a travel medicine specialist can advise you on what vaccines you'll need depending on where you're going. Be sure to ask what vaccines or boosters you need, how many, and when you should get them.

It's also best to read up on the common infectious diseases that are present at your intended destination. This will help prepare you for what other preventive health measures to take. Remember, prevention is always better than cure.

Pack and Prepare Sufficient Medications

Some of the medical supplies you'll need may be unavailable in your destination, so be sure to bring enough for your entire stay, plus a little extra (just in case). Make sure you double-check if your prescription medications are legal in your destination to avoid any issues with the local law. It also helps if you carry a prescription letter from the doctor in case authorities will require that from you.

Get Travel Insurance

Medical assistance overseas can be expensive. As such, having a travel insurance policy can take some of that financial burden off of you.

When applying for your travel insurance, you'll have to declare all your existing health conditions to ensure you get the right policy. You might also need to disclose some of the activities you'll be participating in – especially extreme sports – so you have to plan ahead what you'll be doing.

If you're planning to travel, be sure to consult with professionals, both from the health and travel industries, on the potential hazards and health risks of your destination. Early planning and preventive measures can help protect you and your family, reducing the risks of anyone acquiring diseases or sustaining injuries.

At e7 Health, we have ravel medicine experts who can review your specific itinerary, immunization records, and medical history. This ensures that you get the appropriate prescriptions, vaccines, guidance, and additional safety measures needed for your particular destination and activities.

e7 Health also offers specialized services, including group travel, pediatric travel. malaria prescriptions, and express COVID-19 testing, to make sure you're healthy and ready for your trip. We additionally offer every vaccine available in the country (except the COVID-19 vaccine) – such as for cholera, hepatitis, HPV, influenza, MMR, and yellow fever – which are vital for travel medicine. From precautions around insects, food and water, skin and wound care to current outbreaks, safety and crime avoidance, and consular information, we've got you covered.

Traveling soon? Contact e7 Health to request more information or book your appointment online.

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