Last Updated on February 5, 2021
Estimated reading time: 4 minutes
In last week’s edition of Never Stop Traveling, Donna Manz took a look at travel insurance plans that protect your interests while abroad. This week, she suggests some good health and medical precautions mature travelers should take.
by Donna Manz
On a dimly-lit transatlantic overnight flight from Washington, D.C. to Paris, I tasted what I thought was pineapple. It wasn’t.
It was mango, one of the foods that sends me, with swelling and breathing difficulties, to the emergency room. One bite and I knew this could be trouble, particularly since we were still more than an hour away from land.
I immediately flagged down a flight attendant, telling her I had taken a small bite of something I am extremely allergic to and asked her to retrieve my flight bag, which contained Benadryl and, should the situation become more serious, an Epipen injector.
Luckily, as it turned out, the man sitting next to me was a medical doctor, and I only needed Benadryl to prevent a potentially more serious allergic reaction. The flight attendant also checked up on me periodically.
There is a moral to this story: be proactive about your own safety and health as much as you can.
If you have a condition that requires medication, always bring the meds onboard with you, never packed in cargo. And if you suffer from a medical condition such as severe allergies, diabetes or cardiovascular disease, notify a flight attendant or seatmate immediately if you develop symptoms of your condition while flying.
Always keep your prescription medications in their original containers, not in “pill cases.” Should you have an emergency doctor’s visit, or a trip to an overseas hospital, you save time, and possibly your life, if the responding medical care provider has immediate access to your prescription medications.
Your original prescription label provides product name, dosage and name of prescribing doctor. If there are drugs you are allergic to, such as iodine or codeine keep an index card in your wallet to that effect.
Not only does an emergency responder need to know what to give you, he/she needs to know what not to give you.
Emergency Contact Information
It’s astonishing that so many travelers don’t bother to include emergency contact information with them when they travel. I keep a card in my wallet with emergency contact names and details, including those of my grown children and my sisters out-of-state.
I also keep index cards in my flight bag, one with my personal information on it, another with emergency contact details. If you have drug allergies or a life-threatening medical condition, don’t forget to annotate the condition.
Really, it’s worth five minutes of your time to do this.
Carry Your Medical Records with You
We live in an age when modern technology can baffle a lot of us. On the other hand, it also can be quite useful, in fact, life-saving at times.
If you have a serious medical condition, such as any type of heart disease for example, you may want to ask your physician to put key medical information on a small USB-flash drive, which are small and easily transportable, for you to carry with you. Some doctors already offer this service.
The information can include electrocardiograms, MRIs, lists of your medications, details about prior treatments, etc., a wealth of information that could save your life – or, at the very least, get you the right treatment fast – should you have a heart attack, stroke or other debilitating incident while you’re away from home.
Speak to your doctor about doing this for you. You may even want to go to your local computer store and purchase the USB drive to give to him/her during your next visit.
Use Common Sense
If you’re planning a trip overseas it’s always good to pay your doctor a visit beforehand for a quick checkup. Some doctors will provide you with additional emergency medications to use should a chronic condition flare up and you’re unable to get immediate medical assistance.
Also, don’t forget to check ahead of time that you’ll have sufficient medications for the duration of your trip. You may have to make arrangements with your insurance provider to get a refill in advance depending upon the duration of your trip.
And finally, don’t just think of these tips as something to consider while you’re traveling overseas. Take medical precautions when you’re traveling anywhere – heart attacks and other life threatening incidents can happen just as easily while driving on a country road in the U.S. as if can while you’re jaunting about Asia, Europe or anywhere else in the world.