Travel Health Risks

Health Risks when Traveling

Some of the most serious health risks when traveling are encountered before you arrive at your destination.  Yes, they are on the airplane. So let’s take a look at some of these common travel health risks.

  • Infectious Diseases – this includes the common cold, flu, and respiratory infections that your fellow travellers bring with them.  You are in close quarters for hours and the low humidity of an airline cabin reduces your production of mucus, which is a natural defense mechanism.
  • Food borne Illnesses – American airlines have relatively safe food but there is always a question about the food safety on foreign airlines. Packing your lunch or bringing snacks will help avoid this problem.
  • Deep Vein Thrombosis – blood clots. Sitting in a cramped position for long periods of time can cause blood clots to form in the body, usually the legs. If these blog clots travel to the lungs then a serious case of pulmonary embolism could occur. This risk is significantly higher for those who are obese, suffer from poor circulation, heart disease, or just plain old age.  The solution is to drink plenty of fluids and try and walk around or stretch as much as possible.
  • Jet Lag – usually this is just temporary but it is an unavoidable nuisance. Jet lag can result in travel fatigue, loss of concentration, and mood disorders.
  • Gas Expansion – airplanes fly with a reduced cabin pressure. For most people this is not a problem.  However, it can affect those who have had recent surgery and have had any gas introduced into specific areas. The body parts at greatest risk for gas expansion and tissue damage are the abdominal cavity and eyes. Any air or gas trapped in the ear canal could be a problem also.

Infectious diseases in other countries also pose a risk for the American traveler. Vaccinations prior to the travel can offer significant protection but vaccines are not a 100% guarantee against disease. It is advisable that an individual consult his or her physician at least  four to eight weeks prior to departure to discuss the diseases to be vaccinated against and to allow sufficient time for the vaccination to become fully effective.

The World Health Organization has published a book concerning international travel and health. You can view it by clicking the previous link. The list of Vaccines for Travellers in this book is below and can be found in Chapter 6. However, it is reproduced below.

Click the following link to read about the common Reasons for a Visit to an Emergency Room.