Destination I Do
Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Travel Tuesday - Stay Healthy for Your Destination Wedding

Words by Jennifer Stein
Words by Dr. Mark Savant

A destination wedding can bring a whole new sense of adventure and even intimacy to an already exciting day. It can also pose some health related challenges that you might not have to deal with otherwise. With just a little planning ahead and some common sense you should be able to enjoy your wedding day illness-free.

The types of health concerns you face are usually determined by where you go and can be divided, in general, by whether it will be hot or cold. The one thing that doesn’t matter is if you’re taking a plane. An airplane is a great place to catch a cold so don’t forget to wash your hands and don’t touch your face. If you can avoid touching your face alone you should be able to prevent most illnesses. Using a hand sanitizer regularly, especially before eating, is also helpful.
Hot climates usually mean lots of sun exposure so you’ll want to protect yourself. Wear loose-fitting clothing and a wide-brimmed hat. Use a good sunscreen, spf 30 minimum, liberally and don’t forget to reapply every few hours and especially after going into the water. Also don’t forget to apply the sunscreen to those hard to reach and less obvious places like the back of your neck, arms and legs and the tops of your ears.

Hydration is another important health concern. You’ll need to drink at least 2 to 3 liters of clear liquids, mostly water, per day and more if you drink alcohol or exercise. For alcohol I usually recommend to my patients to drink at least 2 glasses of water for each alcoholic drink consumed. Also, don’t skip meals. Regular, healthy eating will keep your energy levels at their optimum.

Hot climates can sometimes mean more exotic locales that may require a visit to your doctor or local travel clinic before you go. Depending on your destination you may need to get immunizations (is your tetanus shot up to date? good for 10 years) and antibiotics to have on hand. A great place to start is the Center for Disease Control. You can find your destination and get a good idea of what vaccinations you’ll need to get before you go.

Those exotic tropical locations can also have an increased risk for contracting a food borne illness. Here are a few things to remember so you don’t get sick. Don’t drink any water unless you know it’s been bottled. That also means no ice in your drink. Don’t eat any salads, which could have been washed in the water, and only eat fruit that you can peel. Eat no fresh sauces, like the hot sauce sambal in Indonesia, and no street food.

Cold weather destinations will have fewer health concerns, typically but there are still a few things to which you should pay attention. Cold wind and sunshine reflected off of snow can be very hard on the skin so use a good sunscreen and lip balm and use a good moisturizer on your skin once or twice a day. Wear warm clothing with particular attention to layering: silk or wool undergarments and then layers of fleece or wool and a good jacket, hat, scarf, or gloves depending on how cold it’s going to be. And again, hydration is just as important in cold weather as it is in warm.

p>And, finally here are a few general reminders. If you take prescription medications (ie birth control pills) don’t forget to bring them along.

Always wear a seat belt and look both ways before you cross the street, especially in right hand drive countries. As the old saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Relax, have fun, and be well.

Dr. Savant heads up the Savant Medical Group in San Francisco. Dr. Savant attended the Medical College of Wisconsin and completed his Internal Medicine residency at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center in San Jose, California in 1997 where he was given the “Grace Under Fire” Award by the Emergency Department. He then went to New York City to be on the Faculty of the Division of General Internal Medicine at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital where he also served as a clinical instructor to the third year medical students at Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons. He was identified by the medical students as an excellent clinical teacher and role model for the 1998-99 academic year.

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