Angie's LIST Guide to
What is travel medicine?
Several health issues can plague overseas and international travelers. If you're traveling internationally, travel medicine specialists will inform you of health concerns or outbreaks as you venture out of the country and back. Emporiatrics is the branch of medicine that informs, evaluates and treats the health conditions affecting people who travel globally.
Travel medicine is divided into four main groups: the prevention of disease or illness, the assistance and treatment of conditions, location-specific emporiatrics and access to special health care programs designed for travelers. This medical practice can comprise an interdisciplinary team of professionals such as doctors, nurses, certified nurse's aides, medical assistants, phlebotomists, laboratory technicians and psychologists. The World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention contribute accurate information for medical groups and the media worldwide. Most public health programs like these monitor health statistics, investigate health issues or disease outbreaks, advocate public health issues and provide training and up-to-the-minute information to medical professionals.
Emporiatrics specialists also help travelers steer clear of injuries, exercise discretion with personal health issues, avoid ingestion of contaminated water and foods and identify insects and animals that carry or harbor disease.
Meeting with someone from an emporiatric clinic before your trip who counsels, provides medicine and specializes in global health issues will help you stay safe as you travel.
Medical considerations for travelers
If you are heading overseas or to remote travel locations that don't provide purified water or heat sources, you should obtain information on the current condition of outbreaks and epidemics in those areas, as well as in any areas where you have layovers. Specific disease issues that you need to consider include malaria outbreaks, meningococcal meningitis and yellow fever. Getting vaccinated for diseases such as yellow fever and taking antimalarial medication will help to avoid falling ill.
The World Health Organization also reports certain outbreaks of contagious diseases in specific areas of the world. If you currently don't have the vaccinations to protect against diseases or conditions, getting them through a doctor or clinic specializing in emporiatrics will provide an added layer of protection. The health team will educate you on how to stay safe through an outbreak of illnesses such as measles and Legionnaire's disease, and contagious conditions such as infectious diarrhea.
In some cases, traveler's insurance will require you to have vaccinations and avoid specific areas all together. Your insurance company will have specific clinics or hospital networks that you may be required to visit before your insurance will be approved. Some airlines will not let you travel without these vaccinations. Pre-existing conditions, along with injuries resulting from accidents, are also common reasons for filing traveler's insurance claims and visiting specialist doctors overseas.
Becoming ill overseas requires immediate medical care and phone contact with your family physician. Emporiatric care will provide immediate treatment that could include medication, emergency medical care and surgery.
Consider visiting a medical clinic specializing in emporiatrics when you return from your trip. This may include specific testing to make sure your health is good, and you weren't infected with any type of disease or virus.
Benefits of seeing a travel doctor
You'll mainly benefit from receiving this type of care by receiving the medical prevention procedures and knowledge to travel overseas or out of the country safely. Visiting a clinical care staff will keep you informed by utilizing the latest information and outbreak news from around the world.
Pre-counseling will help identify signs of infection or illness that require further medical attention. Signs of fever, diarrhea, abdominal pain, vomiting or discomfort at the site of a bug bite are all indications that you should seek emporiatric care. Counselors may also recommend carrying a water purifier or filter as well as a medical kit to provide immediate relief should an emergency occur.