The Importance of Checkups After International Trips
Tuesday, January 7, 2020 Tiffany Bartz
Whether you are planning on traveling outside the country or you just recently returned from an international trip, it is important to consider scheduling a checkup with your physician. Hopefully, your trip was (or will be) amazing, but it is important to make sure that upon your return, you don’t bring anything more with you than memories, souvenirs, and photos. The CDC does not have an official guideline for screening international travelers that have no symptoms of a disease. However, anyone who becomes ill after traveling abroad should contact his or her healthcare provider immediately.
The destination, the duration of visit and the activities that were participated in can all increase the risk of an infection or disease contraction. Information your physician may ask you to include:
- your vaccination history,
- what type of activities you participated in,
- how long you were gone,
- where you stayed,
- what you ate and drank,
- whether or not you were bitten by bugs or scratched by animals,
- whether or not you swam in freshwater,
- and if you received healthcare abroad.
Therefore, while you are traveling, it is important to keep track of your activities and eating habits as this will help your physician with a potential diagnosis.
A follow up physical is especially important if you develop diarrhea, have skin problems, develop a rash, have trouble breathing, or have any other unusual physical issues. The most common travel-related infections have short incubation periods. Traveler’s diarrhea, dengue fever, arboviral infections, and influenza typically have incubation periods of less than 2 weeks. Malaria, typhoid fever, acute HIV, viral hepatitis and leishmaniasis have longer incubation periods of up to 4 – 6 weeks. However, some of these infections can manifest months or even years later.
There are health risks to traveling abroad, but that should never stop you from having a successful trip. The best way to ensure a healthy trip is to make sure you are up to date with your general health before you leave and knowing the indicators for visiting your healthcare provider upon your return. Looking after your health before and after you travel should always be included in your itinerary.
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