Travel Tips

how to leave healthy and stay that way

For most people there is not much more exciting than an overseas holiday.  And there is not much that can spoil that holiday faster than getting sick or being in pain.  Let’s have a look at some of the things you can do to stay well and pain-free on your overseas holidays.

Make like a Scout and Be Prepared

Being prepared will not only help avert any health problems when you are travelling, it will also give you peace of mind so you can enjoy your trip.  Here are a few suggestions:

  • make sure you are fit and well, and have had any appropriate shots in plenty of time before you leave. There are specialist travel doctors who can help you understand what shots you need for where you are travelling.
  • While at the travel doctor, pick up a script for broad spectrum antibiotics. If you do get sick you won’t have to waste time looking for a doctor and tackling the language barrier.
  • Take a supply of over the counter medications for tummy bugs, and include something to replace your electrolytes and sugars
  • If you are going somewhere that you don’t trust the water, take some water purification tablets. Sometimes, even the bottled water isn’t what it seems.
  • Make sure your luggage is not too heavy for you to lift easily – especially on the way out, as it will no doubt be full of purchases on the way home. So whatever you have packed, take 30% of it out!
  • Talk to your chiropractor about any exercises you can do while you are travelling to keep you fit and pain-free. If you have neck or back problems this is particularly important as long stretches in planes, trains and automobiles, strange beds and pillows can cause havoc on your spine.
  • Talk to your podiatrist about the right shoes for your trip. Depending on where you are going and what you are doing, your shoe needs might vary.  Comfort might not always be glamorous, but you will never regret opting for the right shoes.

Prevention not Cure

So, you’re all loaded up with the right gear and worded up on exercises.  But really, prevention is best.  There are a few things you can do to avoid problems:

  • Don’t have ice in your drinks. If it is made from local water it may make you sick.
  • Avoid salads, and only eat fruit you have peeled yourself. Again, it’s a water thing.
  • It’s great to eat local, but if you are not used to certain foods, don’t feel you need to try them as they can cause stomach upset. This is particularly the case with spicy foods.
  • Probiotics! These will not only help your stomach cope with unfamiliar foods and routines, but will help get you back to normal quickly should the worst happen.  Metagenics make a probiotic ideal for travel as it doesn’t require refrigeration for up to 60 days.
  • Keep up any exercise regime that your chiropractor has suggested to avoid developing problems.
  • Wash your hands Give your hands with soap and water after handling money and before and after eating. If this is not possible, give your hands a rub with hand sanitizer.
  • Remember to apply sun screen and insect repellent. Nobody needs sunburn or itching bites on a holiday!

Deep Vein Thrombosis

Since an overseas holiday for Australians generally involves a very long-haul flight, an all too common problem is Deep Vein Thrombosis.  At best, this can cause a great deal of discomfort, at worst it can be life threatening.  But there are things you can do to reduce the risk, and signs you should look out for.

A Deep Vein Thrombosis is a blood clot which forms in one of the large veins deep inside your body – generally the leg.  They are the result of blood not circulating freely and pooling in a vein.  These clots can cause pain, swelling and skin discolouration.  However, if the clot begins to move, or a piece breaks off, it can travel to your lung, potentially causing a life threatening pulmonary embolism.  No laughing matter.

Air travel, or even sitting still too long in a car (another hallmark of Australian holidays!) can cause a DVT to develop.  If you are overweight, smoke, take oral contraceptives, are pregnant or have a family history of DVT your risk is increased.  There are, however, things you can do to reduce the likelihood of this painful and potentially life threatening condition:

  1. Drink plenty of fluids on the flight. Yes, I know that will mean more of those awful trips to the toilet, but it’s a small price to pay.
  2. Avoid alcohol and caffeine – sorry, I know I got your hopes up with number 1!
  3. Avoid sleeping tablets – yes, I know it’s almost impossible to get any rest in cattle class without them, but it is best to be safe.
  4. Wear loose clothing that doesn’t restrict movement – jeans are not recommended.
  5. Wear flight socks – especially on flights of 4 hours or more. They may not look glamorous, but they might save your life.  Flight socks should be fitted by a health care professional or pharmacist as it is important they fit properly.
  6. Try and do some stretching and walking around the terminals during stopovers or when waiting for connecting flights.
  7. In flight exercises are a must.

In Flight Exercises

Agreed, there is not much room to do exercises in an economy seat – there is barely enough room for an adult – but there are a few exercises that you can do that will help avoid a DVT.

  1. Lift one knee up and hug it to your chest, keeping your back straight. Hold for 5 seconds.  Alternate sides a few times.
  2. Lift one foot off the floor and draw circles with your toes – clockwise and then anti-clockwise. Alternate sides a few times.
  3. With feet flat on the floor, lift up your heels, pressing the ball of the foot into the floor. Hold, then put your heel down, lifting the toes.  Hold and repeat a few times.
  4. When you make a trip to the toilet, try walking up and down the aisle a couple of times. Don’t try this when there is turbulence as there is a risk of injury.

Finally, keep an eye out for the symptoms of DVT for about a month after a long-haul flight and go straight to the doctor if you experience swelling, pain or skin discolouration.  If you think you may have a DVT and you experience shortness of breath, chest pain, dizziness or fainting or you begin coughing up blood go directly to a hospital.

If you are off on an overseas holiday, firstly – you lucky thing!  Secondly, you can’t start preparing early enough.  Our specialist Chiropractor and Podiatrist can help ensure you are fit as a fiddle so that you finish your journey as strong and health as you started it.  Call our Hills District clinic on 9639 7337 to make an appointment.

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