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Staying Healthy While Traveling Abroad

When traveling abroad, exercise safeguards for your own health.

Are you planning a trip to other countries? The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has some tips on how to travel with an eye toward maintaining your good health.

Before You Go

Do some research. Learn about access to reliable medical care at your destination. Good resources include:

Avoid buying medicines abroad. Drugs sold in developing countries may not be as carefully regulated as those sold in the U.S. and may contain toxic ingredients or other impurities.

Have an ample supply of medications. Keep prescription and over-the-counter medications in their original packaging to avoid problems with border guards. Carry on your medical supplies to cover unexpected airline delays or baggage problems.

Think about immunizations. Consult your health care professional weeks in advance of the trip, since some immunizations are administered over weeks or months. Also, check the website issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for information on immunizations for travelers (wwwn.cdc.gov/travel/contentVaccinations.aspx).

Consider altitude. Even healthy people can become ill at altitudes above 10,000 feet. Young children are especially at risk. If you are going to high altitude destinations, plan to rest during the first 12 to 24 hours at the location to adjust for breathing in less oxygen. People with chronic heart and lung disorders should consult a physician before traveling to altitudes above 3,000 feet.

Travel to Developing Countries

Avoid tap water in all forms. This includes ice, water by the glass or in mixed drinks, and water used when brushing your teeth. Even a small amount of infected water can make you ill.

Drink safe beverages. These include:

  • Boiled water – one minute of boiling is adequate.
  • Bottled water – carbonated water is the best assurance that the container was just opened and not filled at the tap.
  • Bottled or canned beverages.

Avoid raw fruits and vegetables. Eat only food that has been cooked and is still hot, or fruit that has been washed in clean water and that you have peeled. Fruits and vegetables that grow near to the ground may be contaminated by the same organisms that affect tap water.

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