Health Watch -- Avoid Vacation Illness

Health Watch is a Public Service of the Office of News and Publications and is intended to provide general information only and should not replace the advice of a medical professional. You should contact your physician if you have questions about any of these topics.

N othing spoils a family vacation like illness does.

It's the time of year when many families are setting out on summer vacations. But if someone gets sick, it puts a damper on everyone's fun. The good news, doctors at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas say, is there are things you can do to prevent getting sick.

Dr. Daniel Skiest, a UT Southwestern infectious diseases specialist, says one of the first things to do is make sure that everyone in your family is up-to-date on routine vaccinations and tetanus shots. If you're going to an exotic location, make sure you have all the extra vaccinations that may be necessary.

One travel danger that's had more attention lately is deep-vein thrombosis - potentially fatal blood clots in the legs that can be caused by sitting for long periods of time. On long plane rides, try to get up and walk around every so often to keep your blood flowing. On long car trips, stop regularly to stretch out and walk.

On plane trips, drink plenty of fluids and avoid alcohol. That will help keep you from becoming dehydrated in the dry air - one of the causes of jet lag.

If visiting an underdeveloped part of the world, be careful about what you eat and drink. Drink only bottled water or carbonated beverages and eat only cooked food. Avoid food sold by street vendors.

Once you've taken care of your health, have a fun vacation.


June 2004