Dubai: Summer vacations are around the corner; after the uncertain travel plans in the past few years and with ease of travel in the present year, more families are planning to travel during this break than what we have seen in the last whole year. The last thing one wants is to spend the vacation with kids sick in bed as they are more likely for travel-related problems like jet lag, motion sickness, diarrhea, and infections. Early planning and smart packing can help you keep your family healthy while traveling. Here are some things to keep in mind.
Jet lag may cause insomnia and stomach aches. One should adjust the sleep schedule 2-3 days prior to travel; keep oneself and family well hydrated with drinks during travel, take adequate sleep during flight, after arrival, kids should be encouraged to be active during daylight hours following the local time of the destination.
Motion sickness seems worse on an empty stomach. Provide foods that are easily digested, such as complex carbohydrates, and avoid heavy meals or fatty foods. Try to avoid eating during short trips. For longer trips, sip drinks and eat small meals and snacks. While travelling in car encourage child to look outside, listening to music maybe relaxing, avoid reading books, put down electronic devices, keep windows open to allow fresh air.
Kids experience ear discomfort during takeoff and landing, caused by pressure in the middle ear as it tries to keep up with the quickly changing air pressure. Encourage kids to swallow, yawn, or, if they’re old enough, chew gum. It may help infants to nurse or suck on a bottle.
Infections: Diarrhea and other stomach problems can be common during travel. Often, they’re caused by bacteria, viruses or other parasites entering the digestive tract, usually from contaminated food or water especially during travel to developing countries. Consider drinking only bottled water when traveling; if you use tap water, boil it first or purify it. Remind kids to wash hands well and often; keep an alcohol-based hand sanitizer handy. Make sure all dairy products are pasteurized. Fresh fruits and vegetables should be cooked or washed well and peeled. Meats and fish should be well cooked and eaten just after preparation. Avoid food from street vendors. Continue breastfeeding an infant. Hepatitis A and typhoid vaccines are recommended before travel to monsoon regions.
Insect bites, insect borne illness like malaria, dengue, injuries and sunburns are commonly noted during travel to tropical countries. It is advisable to carry a small first-aid kit that includes antiseptic, antibiotic ointment, bandages, anti-itch lotions and other OTC medications like paracetamol, cough syrups, sunscreens, insect repellents (especially when travelling to mosquito prone areas), hand-rubs and hand sanitizers. Vaccinations like yellow fever and Japanese Encephalitis vaccines should be administered before travel to high risk regions
Pack any medicines and other medical supplies you and your family use regularly including inhalers, allergy medicine, and insulin, if needed. Be aware of the closest hospital or clinic at your destination, especially if your child suffers from chronic health conditions. Carry a written copy of child’s medical history and vaccination records. Check with your regular doctor about any needed vaccines and safety precautions.
One should maintain the same health and safety precautions as done at home like wearing mask, avoid contact with sick individuals, avoid touching eye, nose and mouth, use wipes to clean surfaces and objects touched regularly by people.
Planning in advance can thus help one to enjoy the vacation without unnecessary hassles. A stitch in time saves time and money, have a wonderful vacation.
This Article is contributed by Dr. Jenny John Cheriathu, Medical Director, Specialist Pediatrician at Ibin Sina Medical Center, Amina Hospital Ajman
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