Travelling with a Medical Condition
Travelling with a medical condition need not be daunting. Taking a few simple precautions can make life so much easier when you are travelling with a medical condition. At the bottom of this piece, I have summarised the article, the main points collated into in an easy to digest manner, TL:DR at the bottom of this page.
Existing medical conditions are not just the realm of the elderly or the infirmed. Managing that condition may seem daunting while travelling. I will use myself as an example as I’ve known myself for a while. This is not an oh, poor me article, I am just saying what works for me and to show it is possible and hope it may help you.
I have a condition known as APS Anti-Phospholipid Syndrome. What this means is I get blood clots. It was diagnosed one Christmas after I had blood clots in my Iliac and Popliteal arteries. I have to take anticoagulants, blood thinners, among other things to manage it. It’s not all bad, I did manage to get out of cooking Christmas dinner that year! Now they just keep my blood very thin to stop it clotting.
Take Extra Medicine
So, trying to avoid things that make my blood clot and getting on aircraft constantly are not conducive to each other. Wherever I go, I take medication with me. I take at least double the amount I need. Having them in my hand luggage as well as my hold luggage, just in case I am separated from either, offers peace of mind too. Keeping a few tablets in my wallet is something I also do. This stuff keeps me alive and I can’t afford to be without it. Time zones are a factor here. I take my drugs at the same time each day so that my doses are 24 hours apart. That is the key, you still have to take them 24 hours apart but the time you take them will be different in a different time zone.
Also in my wallet is a card with my condition and relevant medical information in the world’s major languages. If you can’t communicate what your problem is to a doctor then this will help.
When on warfarin there are certain types of foods I have to limit myself to as they can interact with some foods. Green leafy stuff is good for you but contains a lot of vitamin K and too much of that than my normal intake can be bad. Consistency is king. However, Malaria medicine and diarrhoea medicine can upset the balance. In my case, I carry a blood thickness testing machine with me. It’s not much bigger than a large mobile phone and I can monitor myself.
Above all, make sure your travel insurance is good. It will give you peace of mind.
- Make sure existing conditions are well controlled before travel.
- Is your condition affected by air travel?
- Keep a copy of your prescription in your luggage.
- I always take more tablets than needed in my carry on and the same again in hold luggage.
- I keep a translation card of my condition in my wallet in several different languages as well as the local language.
- Taking medicines is on an elapsed time basis and not the time of day. If you are crossing time zones this is something remember and work out!
- Be aware of drug interactions! Medicines used to treat chronic conditions, such as warfarin, can interact with things like malaria drugs and others. Always consult a medical professional.
- Make sure your travel insurance is good.
It is totally possible travelling with a medical condition and hopefully, this article may help.
Disclaimer. I’m not a Doctor or qualified in any way to offer medical advice. This is how I do it and may not work for you. It may help you though, or at least give you a starting point.
More information on travel health can be found here or consult your own medical professional.
My article here on avoiding DVTs may be useful too