It's in the water!

When you're camping, it's tempting to drink water straight from pristine-looking lakes and streams – but don't do it! Microscopic single-celled parasites can cause illnesses in humans if ingested. Here are two common waterborne diseases that could ruin your week:

  • Cryptosporidiosis (crip-toh-spore-id-ee-oh-sis) is caused by Cryptosporidium (crip-toh-spore-id-ee-um). The symptoms include watery diarrhea, headache, nausea, and stomach cramps. It can show up 2 to 10 days (average of 7 days) after becoming infected, and the symptoms usually last for 1 to 2 weeks.
  • Giardiasis (jee-ar-dye-a-sis), also known as "beaver fever," is caused by Giardia (jee-ar-dee-ah). It shares similar symptoms with cryptosporidiosis. Symptoms include diarrhea, gas, stomach cramps, weakness, and weight loss. Vomiting, chills, and headache may also occur. Symptoms first show up 1 to 14 days (average of 7 days) after becoming infected and usually last 1 to 3 weeks.

How to prevent waterborne diseases:

  • Use bottled water only, or boil water at least one minute before using it. Alternatively, you can purify water with special water filters that remove microscopic parasites.
  • Don't brush your teeth, wash dishes, fruits, or vegetables, or use ice cubes made with water that hasn't been purified.
  • Peel raw fruits and vegetables before you eat them.
  • Wash your hands with bottled or purified water only, and do it carefully several times a day.
  • Don't swallow water when you're swimming.

If you think you have cryptosporidiosis or giardiasis, see your doctor right away. You may need to give stool samples to see if you have the parasite, and then get treated with prescription medications to get rid of it for good.

All material copyright MediResource Inc. 1996 – 2021. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Source: www.medbroadcast.com/healthfeature/gethealthfeature/Travel-Health

Medication on vacation

First of all, to make sure you stay healthy when you take a trip, don't leave your medications at home!

Keep these tips in mind for managing your medications on the road:

  • Before your trip, review your dosage schedules with your doctor or pharmacist, especially if you'll be crossing time zones – you may have to take your medications at different times. For example, if you have diabetes and need to use insulin while travelling eastward across 5 or more time zones, you may require less intermediate or long-acting insulin.
  • If you are travelling to another country, visit www.travelhealth.gc.ca to see if you need special protection against disease in the country you are visiting.
  • Some medications can make you more sensitive to the sun and heat – check labels for warnings, or ask your doctor or pharmacist. You may need to cover up or use stronger sunscreen.
  • Store medications away from direct sunlight or high heat. A beach bag or your car's trunk or glove compartment aren't good places to keep medications. For example, insulin can be kept up to 30 days at room temperature, but degrades at higher temperatures.
  • Don't put your medications in checked luggage. Keep them with you and bring enough to last the whole trip; when you go on an outing, carry along a day's supply.
  • You should pack essential medication in 2 different pieces of hand luggage, just in case one becomes lost or stolen. This way you will have backup and not be left without your important medication while abroad.
  • Keep with you a list of all the medications you take (include the names, dosages, directions), your doctors' phone numbers, and your health insurance information.
  • To avoid problems with customs, carry a note from your health care provider describing the types of medications you are using, a copy of your prescriptions, and clear labels on all your medications that identify your full name (as on your passport), pharmacy name, and the name and dose of the medication. The same applies should you have to carry needles or pre-loaded syringes.
  • Put together a travel first aid kit containing over-the-counter and prescription medications you may need if you become ill or are injured. Some medications you may want to include are:
    • antihistamines in case you have a mild allergic reaction
    • a painkiller such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen
    • medications for motion sickness and nausea
    • medications for diarrhea
    • anti-infective ear drops for swimmer's ear (bacterial infection in the ear)
    • an antibacterial cream for cuts, insect bites, and burns
    • a course of antibiotics that is prescribed by your doctor

Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about which specific medications may best suit your needs, depending on your medical history and travel destination.

 

    Travel checklist:

All material copyright MediResource Inc. 1996 – 2021. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Source: www.medbroadcast.com/healthfeature/gethealthfeature/Travel-Health

Motion sickness

Carsickness, airsickness, or seasickness – they're all just different names for the same miserable problem: motion sickness. It can happen when there's a mismatch between what your eyes see and what your inner ear – the body's balance centre – senses when you're in a moving vehicle. The result? The familiar symptoms of nausea, paleness, a cold sweat, and vomiting.

Kids, especially toddlers and preschoolers, are most susceptible to motion sickness. Fortunately, they'll usually outgrow it after the age of 5.

To prevent motion sickness before it starts:

  • Avoid heavy meals up to 2 hours before travelling.
  • Don't try to read when travelling – instead, look out the window at distant objects, or close your eyes.
  • In a car or bus, sit where you can see out the windshield and open a window for fresh air. Better yet, drive the car yourself and you won't feel sick!
  • On a ship, be sure to get a cabin on the inside, near the waterline, where there's less movement. When on deck, look ahead toward the horizon, which is stable.
  • In a plane, ask for a seat next to a bulkhead (wall) over the wings – it'll make turbulence less noticeable.
  • Just in case the sickness can't be avoided, always travel with a leakproof container – resealable food bags are a good bet.
  • If all else fails, talk to your doctor about over-the-counter or prescription medications that can prevent motion sickness.

All material copyright MediResource Inc. 1996 – 2021. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Source: www.medbroadcast.com/healthfeature/gethealthfeature/Travel-Health

Tick trouble

Are ticks just a harmless nuisance?

Tick bites can present a temporarily annoying experience in the summertime. However, the additional possibility of catching Lyme disease is one more reason to take action against these bugs. Lyme disease is caused by a spiral-shaped bacterium called Borrelia burgdorferi, which is spread by the bite of ticks of the genus Ixodes, commonly known as deer ticks or blacklegged ticks.

These ticks are tiny – about the size of a pinhead when immature – and grow only slightly bigger as adults. They crawl onto a person's skin from grasses and shrubs in wooded areas. The tick digs its mouth into the skin and feeds for 2 or 3 days before dropping off.

The risk of getting a tick bite is higher in the spring, through until the fall, when the weather is warm. However, ticks can also be active in the winter, if there is not much snow and it’s relatively warm. You can find blacklegged ticks most often in forests, wooded areas, shrubs, tall grass and leaf piles.

Signs of Lyme disease

A characteristic sign of Lyme disease is a skin rash that starts with a small red patch that gradually expands, often clearing in the centre to form a "bull's-eye" pattern. The person may develop "flu-like" symptoms including fatigue, headache, chills, fever, muscle and joint pain, and swollen lymph nodes. Less commonly, tingling or numbness in the hands and feet or facial paralysis has also been reported.

Preventing tick bites

To avoid tick bites when hiking or camping in wooded areas:

  • If possible, stay away from tick-infested areas, especially in May, June, and July.
  • Stay in the middle of hiking trails and try not to brush against grasses or leaves.
  • Wear light-coloured clothes to make it easy to spot ticks "hitching a ride" on you.
  • Wear closed shoes and long pants with the pant legs tucked into your socks or boots. As an extra precaution, put tape around the area where your pants and socks meet.
  • Wear a hat and a long-sleeved shirt for extra protection.
  • Spray your clothes and exposed skin with an insect repellent that contains 30% DEET, or treat clothes with the insect repellent permethrin, which kills ticks on contact. If using DEET, never spray it directly on your face or broken skin. And, for children aged 6 months to 2 years, do not use a repellent containing more than 10% DEET.

If you spend several days outdoors in areas that might contain ticks, inspect yourself daily once you're indoors. Check your skin carefully for ticks, and ask someone to check your scalp for ticks. If a tick has already latched on to you, don't panic. Even if the tick has bitten you, remember that not all ticks carry Lyme disease.

Removing ticks

The best way to remove a tick is with a tick-removing device or a pair of fine-point tweezers. Grasp it where its mouthparts enter the skin or, if that is not easily visible, grab it by its head (as close to your skin as possible) with the suggested removal tools. Pull the tick straight out firmly and steadily. Do not twist, squash, or crush the tick when you are removing it. Be patient, as proper tick removal takes time. If you notice that the tick's mouthparts still remain in your skin, don't worry; the bacteria that cause Lyme disease reside in the tick's gut or salivary glands.

Do not squeeze the tick's body, do not apply petroleum jelly or alcohol, and do not use a hot match, nail polish, or other products while the tick remains attached. These actions could transmit the Lyme-disease-causing bacteria to you.

Once you remove the tick, place it in a container (e.g., a small jar with a lid) with alcohol to kill and preserve it so you can take it to your doctor to check if it carried Lyme disease. Cleanse the affected area of your skin with an antiseptic (e.g., alcohol) or mild soap and water. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water. You should also have the tick bite examined by your doctor, especially if you develop a rash or flu-like symptoms.

Treating Lyme disease

For people who require treatment for a mild infection associated with Lyme disease, their doctor will usually prescribe an antibiotic for 2 to 4 weeks. The types of antibiotics used include doxycycline, amoxicillin, or cefuroxime. The specific antibiotic used will depend on the disease variation, as well as the person's medical history and medication allergies.

If you have Lyme disease, your doctor will determine the most appropriate treatment for you.

All material copyright MediResource Inc. 1996 – 2021. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Source: www.medbroadcast.com/healthfeature/gethealthfeature/Travel-Health