Traveler’s Health: Importance of Pre-travel Health Consultation
Pre-travel consultation is a great opportunity for addressing health concerns of traveling, imposing adequate preparation and preventive measures. Pre-travel consultation’s main objectives include being able to assess the traveler’s trip plans and identify potential health hazards; providing adequate education to travelers about anticipated risk and preventive measures; for travelers to undergo immunizations as needed for preventing diseases and take prophylactic medications, undergo self-treatment or both; and providing empowerment for travelers in managing their own health during the trip through health counseling. The two factors that can determine the outcome of pre-travel consultation are the health provider’s expertise and communication skills and the traveler’s health beliefs.
For a pre-travel consultation to be successful it is important for health advisors to be familiar with the traveler’s destination, its infrastructure, culture and disease patterns. Healthcare providers who are involved in pre-travel consultation must be familiar with the traveler’s medical history and with detailed knowledge of travel medicine. A travel medicine specialist is highly knowledgeable about immunizations, risks associated with particular destinations, and health implications of traveling underlying conditions. What are the components of pre-travel checks? Pre-travel consultation should be integrated with the traveler’s trip duration, itinerary, travel purpose, and travel activities, all which can determine health risks. The essential information that must be obtained needed for pre-travel risk assessment are the past medical history, special conditions, immunization history, prior travel experience, the season for travel, the reason for travel, itinerary, travel style and special activities.
It is a must to undergo pre-travel consultation for you to be given an expert and personalized advice on travel risks and exposures, a written information of the things you should be careful and aware of, and you’ll be reminded of ubiquitous risks such as injury, respiratory tract infections, bloodborne infections, waterborne infections, foodborne infections, and sexually transmitted infections. It is crucial that you are equipped with the right, knowledge, and attitude to do self-treatment especially if you are traveling to a place that has limited medical facilities or remote areas without the presence of any healthcare provider. The most common health conditions affecting travelers are traveler’s diarrhea, altitude illness, jet lag, motion sickness, urinary tract infections, respiratory infections, skin conditions, vaginal yeast infections, occupational exposure to HIV and malaria. It’s very important for travelers to have a travel health kit that prescription and nonprescription medications.
The vaccines that you must consider during pre-travel checks include hepatitis B, human papillomavirus (HPV), influenza, measles, mumps, rubella, meningococcal, pneumococcal, polio, rotavirus, tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis, varicella, and zoster. The most common travel vaccines include hepatitis A, rabies vaccine, cholera vaccine, tickborne encephalitis, Japanese encephalitis vaccine, typhoid and yellow fever vaccine. In a pre-travel consultation, the major topics for discussion include immunizations, altitude illness, environmental hazards, personal safety, respiratory illnesses, vector-borne diseases, malaria chemoprophylaxis, traveler’s diarrhea, sexual health and bloodborne pathogens, and disease-specific counseling.
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