By Dr. Olivier Gherardi
The children are done with school and warm weather has arrived which means it’s finally summer and time for fun family vacations!
Everyone always hopes that vacations will go off without a hitch, but the truth is life (and children) are unpredictable. Illnesses and injuries can arise and throw a wrench in your plans. A few simple tips can help you prepare to avoid health issues and handle something if it does come up.
Preparation is key before any trip and if your family members have existing health concerns, it’s even more critical. Be sure to refill any necessary medications, including prescriptions, inhalers and EpiPen’s, in case you run out during your vacation.
If you’re traveling overseas, you’ll want to make sure your vaccinations are up-to-date. Just because a disease has been eliminated in the U.S. doesn’t mean it isn’t still active in other countries. The MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine is probably the most important one to get if you plan on traveling internationally.
Hotbeds of disease activity include Europe and Asia, especially the Philippines, and customs could deny you entry unless you have documentation proving you’ve been vaccinated. Another important vaccine is Hepatitis A, especially if you’re traveling to underdeveloped parts of Central or South America.
Injured on vacation
A lot can happen while you’re away from home. From sprained ankles to severe sunburns and food poisoning, these things can turn your vacation into a disaster. The good news is, you don’t have to let any of this ruin your vacation. You may be too far from home to make an appointment with your primary doctor, but that doesn’t mean you have to cut your trip short.
Instead of waiting hours in an ER you can visit a local urgent care center that is open nights and weekends. Many centers have short wait times and are equipped with on-site labs and x-rays for quick diagnoses, to get you treated and back to your vacation quickly.
When you get home
Some people worry about seeing health professionals while away from home because new doctors won’t be familiar with the family’s past medical history. Yet some issues will cause more harm if you wait to have it looked at, so it’s imperative to do so.
Since many health issues need follow up, it’s important to ensure your primary care doctor knows exactly what you or your family member were treated for and how you were treated. Ask the urgent care center you visit if they will make sure your medical records will flow back to your primary physician to ensure continuity of care.
No matter where you’re treated, it’s always smart to note the facility you are seen at and its contact info so your doctor can follow up if necessary.
Health issues are the last thing you’ll want to think about when vacationing, but unexpected things can arise and it’s important to know how to deal with them. Whether you’re preparing for a trip or getting an injury treated while traveling, a nearby urgent care center may be able to help. You will be back on your feet and enjoying your family fun in no time.
Dr. Olivier Gherardi is the medical director at the Warwick CareWell Urgent Care center, which offers vaccination appointments among other services. www.carewellurgentcare.com.