Taking You Higher: What to Know About High Altitude
While white sandy beaches make for a great vacation, some of the world’s most beautiful places exist at high altitudes. The Mayo Clinic classifies high altitude as a destination over 4,921 feet. Vacation destinations such as Machu Picchu, Peru (8,000 feet), and Lhasa, Tibet (12,000 feet) soar way above that mark, so you need to take the proper precautions to avoid getting altitude sickness.
What is altitude sickness?
Altitude sickness can impact anyone traveling from one altitude to a significantly higher one faster than their body can adapt to the lower barometric pressure and reduced oxygen levels. Symptoms are often described as mimicking an alcohol hangover: headache, fatigue, nausea, and vomiting. Mild cases can be treated with over-the-counter painkillers or anti-inflammatories, but rare severe reactions can include swelling of the brain and lungs, requiring an immediate descent to lower ground.
Preventing altitude-related symptoms
Don’t let altitude sickness ruin your vacation! Instead, follow these tips to help minimize your risk:
The absolute best way to prevent altitude sickness is to make your ascent slow and gradual. A general rule recommended by the CDC is that for every 3,300 feet you ascend, try to spend one day without going up any further. If a gradual ascent is not possible, like if you are planning to spend some time in Aspen, CO and you are coming from Los Angeles, CA, consider allowing a few days in Denver to acclimate before completing your trip. Once you are over 8,000 feet, you should move up no more than 1,000 feet per day.
Long plane flights or car rides have a dehydrating effect on most people, and dehydration can actually decrease your body’s ability to acclimate. To prepare your body, drink 2-3 liters of water per day before you travel and keep a 1 liter water bottle with you during your journey, filling up as often as possible. It’s also a good idea to cut down on caffeine and alcohol until your body adjusts.
Take it easy
Due to the body’s decreased ability to take in oxygen at high altitudes, take it slow the first few days. After you have acclimated, you can gradually build up your activity levels, but don’t push it too hard.
Since it takes the body longer to digest food at higher altitudes, watching your portion sizes is not a bad idea. Heavy meals late in the day will simply slow you down and increase your feeling of fatigue. Consider eating a hearty breakfast, snacking throughout the day, and eating a lighter dinner.
Be prepared with medication
If aspirin just isn’t helping you find relief from the symptoms of altitude sickness, then there are some prescription drugs you can take to help the body adjust. Natural supplements like ginger or ginkgo biloba may also help. For more information on altitude sickness medication, visit Travel Vaccines and Wellness Solutions and talk to our experienced team!
Have a backup plan
If you start feeling sick during your morning hike in the mountains, then your best bet is to head back down to lower ground and relax until the symptoms subside. If descending is not an available option, then make sure to sit down, rest, drink lots of water, and eat something until you feel better.
Best Organizations for Volunteering Abroad
Want to make a difference and see the world at the same time? Well, you’re in luck, because you are not alone! There are a ton of volunteering organizations that offer amazing opportunities to go abroad and utilize your talents to impact lives. Whether you want to get your hands dirty by promoting environmental conservation in Nepal or teach math and conversational English to school children in Africa, here are some of the best organizations to help turn your dreams into reality.
The Peace Corps
Dedicated to serving others, the Peace Corps accepts volunteers from all backgrounds that are ready to help change lives. With almost 7,000 volunteers currently serving in over 60 countries around the world, the Peace Corps has the resources and connections you need to sharpen your skills in a field you love or tackle a new challenge. The Peace Corps offers a variety of programs that span 3 months – 2 years and focusing on projects in:
- Community Economic Development
- Youth Development
The Fulbright U.S. Student Program is an excellent choice for recent graduates, master’s or doctoral candidates, or young professionals that have great ideas for research projects in other countries! If your grant proposal is accepted, then you will meet, work, live with, and learn from the people of the host nation. This direct interaction will help you gain an appreciation of their culture and way of life and promote a mutual understanding between you and your hosts.
World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF)
If promoting healthy living is your passion, then why not show your support for the organic movement by plunging into an international network of like-minded individuals and sharing your love of sustainable living with other cultures? WWOOF is a cultural exchange that involves organic growers and farmers in more than 120 countries around the world who are willing to offer food, accommodations, and the opportunity to learn about a new way of life in exchange for your help with the daily chores.
Global Vision International
GVI is an award-winning organization that provides volunteer opportunities in Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, Latin America, and North America. Projects range from animal care to construction to education and can last anywhere from one week to one year. This company places a great deal of emphasis on volunteer safety, which makes it very appealing to first-time international volunteers.
Whether your hometown congregation is looking to volunteer abroad or you want to participate in a mission trip, there are a variety of online resources to help you find the perfect fit. Organizations like Global Ministries offer group trips, mission opportunities, volunteer opportunities, and study or travel opportunities to help you see the world and potentially change someone’s life. You can also check out your local church, synagogue, mosque, or temple to find out more information on upcoming mission or volunteer trips.
Volunteering abroad can be an exciting and life-changing experience! If you would like to learn more, speak with the friendly team at Travel Vaccines and Wellness Solutions or stop by one of our three locations today!
Cruise with Good Health: How to Stay Healthy on Your Next Cruise
There’s no better way to see multiple places in one fell swoop than aboard a cruise ship. You can catch up on your cha-cha lessons, see a couple of shows, and relax by the pool with a few exotic shore excursion mixed in for good measure. So much more comfortable than cramped cars and plane cabins, right? You would think with all of the opportunities for fresh air and good food that staying fit and healthy on a cruise would be a piece of cake, but there are potential health concerns that might threaten to spoil your trip. Here are some good tips for staying healthy while you are traveling on the high seas.
Different parts of the world are subject to different diseases, so even if you are caught up on all of your childhood vaccines, it may be time for a booster shot. Some immunizations need to be given in multiple doses spaced out over weeks or even months, so check with your doctor or a healthcare clinic like Travel Vaccines and Wellness Solutions in advance to ensure that you are protected.
Arrive at port a few days in advance
It’s no secret that fatigue can compromise our immune systems. If you are traveling to a different time zone to board your cruise ship, try to arrive at port a day or two in advance so you can acclimate to the time change. Some tricks to help overcome jet lag include:
- Not napping on your first day
- Staying up until a reasonable bedtime
- Spending lots of time outside
- Choosing a medical remedy, like melatonin, to help your body adjust
Wash your hands
The absolute best way to avoid Norovirus or other illnesses on a cruise ship is to thoroughly wash your hands every chance you get. Also, avoid shaking hands by opting for a much healthier (and fun!) fist bump, and take advantage of the hand sanitizers that are strategically placed all over the ship.
Pace yourself at the buffet
Multi-course meals jam-packed with rich foods and lots of alcohol are kind of a cruise ship staple. It’s easy to overeat or drink too much, which can wreak havoc on your digestive system. By wisely choosing what you eat or drink on board, you can avoid feeling bloated or nauseous during your onshore excursions. Try limiting yourself to one buffet plate or eating a light lunch, stop eating when you’re full, and watch your alcohol intake.
Drink lots of bottled water
Staying hydrated is key, especially if you’re spending a lot of time in the sun. Bring a reusable water bottle with you on the ship and fill up whenever you can. When you’re off the boat, it’s best to drink bottled water since it’s not always safe to drink local water in some countries. This also extends to ice, fruit where you’d eat the skin, and uncooked vegetables, so it might be best just to bring your own snacks and drinks from the ship to be safe.
Don’t forget to wear sunscreen and have a great time! For more information, contact our healthcare experts in Tucson today!
Pregnant and Traveling: What You Need to Know
Traveling while pregnant can present a lot of unique challenges, but it is generally safe as long as there are no known concerns. The ideal time to travel during your pregnancy is the second trimester. By this point, you have most likely passed the morning sickness phase of the first trimester and have not yet reached the fatigued state of the third trimester. Chances are that you may not find your favorite brand of ice cream when the craving hits, but with a little advance planning, everything else should fall into place. Here are some helpful tips to keep in mind when you are planning your pre-baby vacation.
Check in with your doctor
This tip may seem obvious, but you should always discuss any travel plans with your doctor before buying the plane tickets. Your doctor knows your history and can assess your pregnancy to determine any risk factors you may face during your travels. Most doctors advise against travel after 32 weeks, because you may end up delivering in a strange place with an unfamiliar doctor. However, there are many scenarios where traveling after eight months is permitted. It may be a good idea to keep a copy of your prenatal records and/or relevant ultrasounds with you, and make sure to bring along your obstetrician’s number should you need it.
Consider buying travel insurance
Pregnancies can be unpredictable, especially when it comes to determining the exact date your little one will make their grand entrance. Studies show that less than 5% of babies are born on their due date, so you may want to consider buying trip insurance to ensure that you are covered if you have to cancel for any reason.
Research any potential risks you may face at your desired destination
One of the main concerns regarding international travel while pregnant is that you may be exposing yourself and your baby to disease. Currently, there are many parts of the world where the Zika virus is endemic, causing a great deal of risk for your unborn child. Take the necessary precautions to avoid any exposure to Zika, or change your destination all together if Zika is prevalent in your destination area. There are also other diseases that are rare in the U.S. but common in other countries. Talk to your doctor about any immunizations or medications you may need to protect yourself from danger
Make the best of your plane trip by:
- Getting up to walk around every hour
- Dressing comfortably
- Bringing your own snacks
- Requesting an aisle seat for easy bathroom access
Tips for eating in foreign countries:
- Drink plenty of bottled water
- Make sure the milk is pasteurized
- Avoid fresh fruits and vegetables unless they have been cooked or can be peeled
- Make sure all meat is cooked completely
- Bring your prenatal vitamins and favorite snacks with you
If you are planning on traveling to an exotic location, contact the CDC or the knowledgeable team at Travel Vaccines and Wellness Solutions to ensure that you have all of the safety information you need to have a safe and relaxing trip.
Immunizations to Get That Might Surprise You
Whether you are an accomplished world-traveler or are setting out on your first voyage, you probably know that travel vaccines are required for certain parts of the world. Sure, you have heard of immunizations for Typhoid and Yellow Fever, and you may have even taken malarial pills on more than one occasion. But there are several other immunizations that you may not have heard much about. These lesser-known vaccines can help you avoid some debilitating diseases in some of the world’s most beautiful places.
From the beautiful Tinago Falls in the Philippines to rural areas of Papua New Guinea, Japanese Encephalitis is a risk factor for travelers who will be outside frequently or staying for extended periods of time. JE is a year-round risk for tropical and subtropical areas and a summer-to-fall risk for the mild climates of northern Asia. Symptoms of this disease usually take 5-15 days to develop, and include fever, vomiting, swelling in the brain, coma, and even death. The good news – there is a vaccine! It’s best to see your doctor at least 6 weeks prior to travel as the JE vaccine is given in two doses that are spaced out over a month. The last dose should be given at least 10 days prior to departure.
If you are traveling in sub-Saharan Africa during the dry season or making a pilgrimage to Mecca during the Hajj, then you are required to get a meningococcal vaccine. Meningococcal disease is caused by bacteria that spreads via close contact with an infected person. Common symptoms can include sudden fever, headache, a stiff neck, vomiting, confusion, tiredness, chills, severe aches and pains, fast breathing, and a dark purple rash. Meningococcal disease is very serious and can cause death in as little as a few hours. Fortunately, the meningococcal vaccine offers protection from the disease. Even if you have received a meningococcal vaccine before, you may need a booster dose. It takes 7-10 days for your body to develop protection, so plan accordingly.
All children born and raised in the United States have already received 4 doses of the polio vaccine by the time they reach age 6. Though this crippling and potentially fatal disease has been eliminated from most of the world, eight countries reported cases of polio in 2015: Afghanistan, Equatorial Guinea, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Madagascar, Myanmar, Nigeria, Pakistan, and Ukraine. If one of these locations is on your bucket list, then you should get a one-time booster dose to provide full protection.
Unfortunately, rabies is found worldwide (excluding Antarctica). This deadly disease is spread through licks, bites, or scratches from infected animals such as bats, foxes, dogs, and raccoons. Many countries have a similar risk factor for contracting rabies as the United States; however, there are areas of greater risk that include much of Africa, Asia, and Central and South America. If your vacation activities involve contact with animals or you plan on spending a lot of time outside, you should consider a rabies vaccine. This vaccine is given in a 3-shot series spaced out over the course of one month.
Why spend your vacation worrying when you can contact the experts at Travel Vaccines and Wellness Solutions for up-to-date immunization information. We will ensure that you are fully covered so you can get back to enjoying your fun in the sun.
When Should I Get Immunized? Important Dates for Your Next Trip
International travel can be an amazing experience. You have the opportunity to immerse yourself in new cultures and meet lots of new and exciting people. However, it is important to note that there is more to travel safety then packing insect repellent and sunscreen. Many diseases are prevalent in other countries that may not be common in your area, so you may require additional vaccines on top of your basic immunizations to ensure full protection. Here are several important dates you should keep in mind before setting off on your world tour.
6-12 months prior to your trip
While many travel vaccines come in single shot doses, others may need more than one dose to reach full potency. It’s a good idea to start gathering information about the shots you will need in the area of the world you are visiting at least 6 months prior to departure.
Hepatitis A and B are both common travel vaccines that require multiple doses. Hepatitis A is a two-dose series that needs to be taken 6 months apart. Hepatitis B, on the other hand, is a three-dose vaccine with the first two doses taken 30 days apart and a booster taken 6 months later.
8 weeks prior
If you are planning on traveling to Asia, a Japanese Encephalitis vaccine is a must. Japanese Encephalitis is a disease spread through mosquito bites that can lead to swelling around the brain, coma, and even death. The immunization comes in two doses spread out over the course of a month. The last dose should be given 10-30 days prior to travel for full immunity.
Now may also be a good time to get your Typhoid vaccine. As a single dose shot that lasts for 3 years, you can get it earlier than other vaccines.
4-6 weeks prior
The sweet spot for travel vaccinations is 4-6-weeks prior to departure. Getting your vaccines around this time will not only ensure full immunity before your travels, but it will also give you an opportunity to seek familiar medical attention if you experience any bad reactions.
Ask your doctor if need boosters for your meningococcal or polio vaccines, and you may want to consider a rabies shot if you will be in contact with animals such as cats, dogs, bats, or other carnivores during your travels. The rabies vaccine is taken in 3 doses spaced at least a week apart.
Tick-Borne Encephalitis is another vaccine that is taken in two does spaced at least 4 weeks apart.
10 days prior
Travelers going to certain parts of South America and Africa are at risk for Yellow Fever, a serious illness that can lead to bleeding, shock, and organ failure. This vaccine should be administered at least 10 days prior to your trip. After receiving the vaccine, you will even receive a signed certificate that you will need to take with you on your trip.
One week prior
According to the Center for Disease Control, malaria is common in Africa, Central and South America, parts of the Caribbean, Asia, Eastern Europe, and the South Pacific. While there are no vaccines currently available, you will need to start taking prescription malarial medication at least one week prior to departure and continue taking it during your trip and even for a few weeks after you return home.
If you have any questions about which vaccines you may need for your upcoming trip, the knowledgeable team at Travel Vaccines and Wellness Solutions would be happy to assist you!
The Best Travel Vaccinations for Kids
Traveling with kids can be wonderful. Sure, there is the occasional temper tantrum in the middle of a quiet cathedral or hysteria over leaving a favorite cuddly toy on the train, but every day is a new cultural experience that expands their minds and teaches them all about the wonders of the world. Unfortunately, there are many destinations that are affected by diseases dangerous enough to warrant the creation of a vaccine. Before you travel, put your mind at ease by making sure your children are up to date on their vaccines.
The importance of routine vaccines
There are corners of the world where polio, measles, and diphtheria still affect the population, which is why the Center for Disease Control recommends that children complete their routine childhood vaccines on the normal schedule before going overseas. Routine childhood vaccines include:
- Hepatitis B
- DTaP (Diptheria, Tetanus, and Pertussis)
- Hepatitis A
If you are planning on traveling overseas before the normal schedule can be completed, there are accelerated schedules available for many vaccines. Travel Vaccines & Wellness Solutions can provide you with more information!
Recommended travel vaccines for children
People can catch typhoid through contaminated food or water, especially if you are visiting a smaller town or rural area in Asia, Central or South America, the Caribbean, or Africa where typhoid fever is common. Children 2 and older can receive a typhoid injection that is good for two years while children 6 and older can receive the vaccine as a series of four pills which provides protection for five years.
Common in rural South and Southeast Asia, this disease is spread by mosquitos and causes brain inflammation. A quarter of people infected with “JE” die and brain damage is common in survivors. Children over one year old can receive the vaccine, which is given in a series of three shots over the course of 30 days. The series should be completed at least 10 days before you leave.
This common worldwide disease is spread through contaminated food or drink. A routine hepatitis A vaccine is given to children after they turn one and can last 20 years or longer.
This fatal disease is spread through the saliva of an infected animal. Children are at a higher risk for rabies because they like playing with animals. A pre-exposure vaccine can provide some protection and can be administered to infants and children in three doses over a three to four week period.
A tropical South American and sub-Saharan concern, yellow fever is spread by mosquitos. A one-dose vaccine is approved for children 9 month and older. Make sure to get the vaccine at least 10 days before you leave and immunity should last 10 years.
Another routine childhood vaccine, the meningococcal vaccine prevents infection from bacteria that can cause disabling or fatal meningitis, blood infections, or pneumonia. It is usually given to children around 11 or 12 years old, but a one-dose vaccine is approved for children as young as 2.
Keeping your children safe is the number one priority for the compassionate team at Travel Vaccines & Wellness Solutions . Contact us today to find out more information!
Vaccination Recommendations for Tropical Vacations
Taking a tropical vacation will leave you with memories that last a lifetime. However, if you do not take the proper precautions, you may come home from your trip with more than just a sunburn. Many tropical locals require you to get certain vaccines prior to your arrival and others strongly recommend other vaccinations to prevent the potential spread of disease. Protect yourself and your family by being informed and getting vaccinated before you hit the beach!
While many diseases have been eradicated in the United States, some diseases are much more common in other countries. That’s what makes routine vaccines so important! All travelers should be up-to-date on all routine vaccinations, including:
- Hepatitis B
- DTaP, Td, or Tdap (Diptheria, Tetanus, and Pertussis)
- Hepatitis A
Other vaccine recommendations
If you are planning a trip to any of these popular tropical vacation spots, then contact Travel Vaccines & Wellness Solutions so our team can provide you with the vaccines you need to have a safe and healthy trip. Some vaccines are highly recommended while others depend on where you are going, how long you are staying, what you will be doing, and if you are traveling from a country other than the U.S.
For more information or to check on the vaccine requirements of a country not listed here, please contact Travel Vaccines & Wellness Solutions today!
Prepare To Travel
At Travel Vaccines and Wellness Solutions , we are proud to provide you with the vaccinations needed for traveling out of the country. We are now licensed by The Arizona Dept. of Health Services , so you can be assured you are getting the service you deserve. Before you hop on that plane and travel the world, stop by one of our offices to get vaccinated.
Signs and Symptoms of Malaria
Signs and Symptoms of Malaria
Spending a well-deserved vacation in a tropical or subtropical climate sounds like a little slice of heaven. While these areas are beautiful and mysterious, they also come with a few warning labels, one of which is the potential for contracting malaria. Whether you are on safari in Africa or exploring the wonders of India, keep an eye out for these symptoms so you can act quickly and prevent further complications.
First of all, what is malaria?
Malaria is a life-threatening disease that is most often transmitted by an infected Anopheles mosquito. Once the mosquito bites you, the Plasmodium parasite is released into your bloodstream and travels to your liver to mature. The parasites begin infecting red blood cells and continue to multiply. Within 48 to 72 hours, the infected red blood cells burst open and the parasites move on to find more cells.
Common signs and symptoms
Symptoms of malaria typically start appearing 10 days to four weeks after infection, and they occur in cycles that last 2-3 days at a time. Since malarial parasites can lay dormant for a while, some people may not experience symptoms for several months. Common symptoms to watch out for include:
- High fever
- Moderate to severe shaking chills
- Muscle pain
- Profuse sweating
- Bloody stools
Since Plasmodium parasites infect and destroy red blood cells, malaria can result in anemia (too few red blood cells in the blood). Red blood cells carry hemoglobin and vital oxygen to the cells of the body, so a decrease in their number can cause:
- Shortness of breath
- Low blood pressure
- Heart palpitations.
Severe malarial complications can lead to convulsions, coma, swelling of the blood vessels, pulmonary edema, low blood sugar, organ failure, and even death.
Fortunately, malaria can be treated with medical care. Your doctor will run some tests to determine the type of parasite you have, and then prescribe medication to clear the infection. Some drug-resistant parasites have been reported, so you may need to use more than one medication to treat your condition. The long-term outlook for people who receive treatment for malaria is typically good, though if you suffered complications as a result of malaria, you may have a more difficult road to recovery.
When to see a doctor
If you experience any of the above symptoms while living in or after traveling to a high-risk malaria region, you need to talk to a doctor at once to begin treatment. For severe symptoms, please seek emergency attention as soon as possible.
Handy tips for preventing malarial infection
There is no vaccine to prevent malaria, so talk to your doctor prior to traveling to an area where malaria is common. You may be prescribed antimalarial medication to help prevent infection. Other preventative measures include:
- Sleeping under a mosquito net
- Covering your skin
- Using bug spray that contains DEET
- Staying indoors at dusk and nighttime