Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Staying Healthy While Traveling

Manuel Marquez, MD, serves as a tour director with Destination America's California-based Insight Vacations. Manuel Marquez, MD, entered the travel industry following a successful career in family medicine.

Nothing can ruin a trip like a badly timed illness. Contagious viruses and food-borne microbes can bring down even the most hardy traveler, but a few protective measures can help to reduce the risk of infection.

Individuals traveling outside of domestic borders can start by letting only bottled water past their lips. This means using bottled water even for brushing the teeth, and keeping one's mouth closed in the shower or when washing one's face. Many travelers supplement this technique by taking a bismuth subsalicylate tablet before each meal, as a preventive against certain food-borne illnesses.

Experienced travelers also protect against unwanted microbes by carrying alcohol-based hand sanitizer and using it every time they come into contact with germ-laden surfaces, such as door handles and dining trays. These travelers also avoid touching anything in the bathroom unnecessarily, and they wash their hands for at least 15 seconds before picking up their belongings.

Similarly, travelers may choose to disinfect surfaces close to them when they ride a bus or a train. Many viruses, including norovirus, can live for weeks on certain surfaces, so disinfectant wipes on seat handles and tray tables can go a long way toward infection protection. Air vents should point directly down, which keeps potential infectious agents away from one’s face and airway, and regular use of hand sanitizer can provide additional protection.