Travel Medicine

  • Medical Author:

    Sandra Gonzalez Gompf, MD, FACP is a U.S. board-certified Infectious Disease subspecialist. Dr. Gompf received a Bachelor of Science from the University of Miami, and a Medical Degree from the University of South Florida. Dr. Gompf completed residency training in Internal Medicine at the University of South Florida followed by subspecialty fellowship training there in Infectious Diseases under the directorship of Dr. John T. Sinnott, IV.

  • Medical Editor: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

woman with abdominal pain

Quick GuideTravel Health: Vaccines & Preventing Diseases Abroad

Travel Health: Vaccines & Preventing Diseases Abroad

What should be in my travel first-aid kit or medicine kit?

  • Your kit should be packed in your carry-on luggage.
  • Prescription medications that you take at home
  • Medications that your doctor recommended to prevent travel-related illness, including malaria medications, if indicated
  • Over-the-counter medicines to treat minor illnesses (heartburn, headache, head cold, mild diarrhea, motion sickness, travel sickness)
  • Sunscreen, lotion to use to treat sunburn
  • Insect repellents
  • Alcohol based sanitizer with over 60% ethanol content
  • Bandages, tape, thermometer, and tweezers
  • Other items according to your itinerary. Adventure travelers who are far from medical help will need to consider additional items such as water purification tablets, commercial suture/syringe kits to be used by local health-care provider (ask your doctor for a letter on letterhead stationary prescribing its use), and other necessities.
  • Condoms, especially if there is a chance you may have sex with new partners
  • Women who get vaginal yeast infections should consider carrying along a treatment course (pills or vaginal products)

What are the medical concerns with jet lag?

Jet lag happens when travelers cross several time zones and disrupt their normal sleep-wake cycle.

To reduce the duration and the symptoms of jet lag, try to be outside when the sun is up. It may make for a very long (or short) first day, but it will help you adjust more quickly. Some travelers also try to change their sleep-wake habits before they leave.

Medicines are available that can promote sleep, but there are few studies on how well they work with jet lag. Zolpidem (Ambien) is a prescription sedative that promotes sleep. Another group of prescription drugs known as benzodiazepines also promotes sleep, but they may have more side effects, including temporary amnesia. Melatonin is a natural hormone available as an herbal preparation in the United States. Doses of approximately 5 mg have been shown to induce sleep. Melatonin is available over the counter.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 8/19/2015

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