Medical and Health Preparation for Air Travel

1600x350-medicine.jpg

Travelling by Air    

  • Due to the fact that most airliners are equipped with modern ventilation systems, and most importantly, they prohibit smoking on all flights, the level of air pollution in passenger cabins is much lower than in buildings or on the streets of most cities.
  • However, air travelers should be aware that cabin air has a lower humidity, which can cause slight skin dryness and dry sensation in the nose, throat, and eyes. It is recommended that passengers apply moisturizing skin lotions, softening nasal sprays, and wear regular glasses instead of contact lenses during the flight. This will prevent discomfort.
  • To prevent dehydration before a long flight, passengers should consume a sufficient amount of liquid such as water or fruit juices.
  • The air in the cabin contains a sufficient amount of oxygen for healthy passengers throughout the entire flight. However, due to low pressure, the oxygen supply to the blood system is slightly reduced, which may cause moderate tissue hypoxia and gas expansion, causing slight stomach discomfort. It is recommended that passengers avoid any overexertion, overeating, and excessive drinking of carbonated beverages and alcohol.
  • Discomfort may also occur in the middle ear and sinuses, which is reduced when swallowing, chewing and yawning. If discomfort persists, try plugging your nose and swallowing quickly; use special drops for the nose. Discomfort in infants is relieved by breastfeeding and nipple sucking.
  • Attention! If you suffer from inflammatory diseases of the sinuses, inflammation of the middle ear or the Eustachian tube, you should definitely consult a doctor beforehand and perhaps postpone your flight.
  • Passengers who suffer from motion sickness should request a seat over the wing or near the window at check-in. If necessary, please use the airsick bag in the pocket of the seat in front of you, or ask a flight attendant to bring you medication from the first aid kit.
  • To reduce blood circulation problems associated with prolonged immobility, please wear loose and comfortable clothing during your flight. After taking your seat, take off your shoes or loosen the laces, and loosen your belt and tie. Do not cross your legs; change your position frequently; stretch your limbs. It is advisable to perform simple physical exercises that will help reduce the negative impact of immobility during a long flight.
  • Passengers should be aware that changes in time zones can disturb sleep and disrupt the body’s biological rhythms. This may lead to reduced working capacity, memory impairment, headache, and increased fatigue.
  • Use the following measures to reduce the negative effects of jet lag:
    • have a good rest before, during and especially after the flight;
    • eat easily digestible food; drink lots of juices, water, and reduce the consumption of alcoholic beverages;
    • spend more time outdoors after your flight;
    • if possible, get your body gradually used to the work, and, especially, train your body to rest in the new time zone.

Important Tips before Travelling

  • talk to your doctor and get medical advice; follow your doctor’s recommendations;
  • get information about required vaccinations and the International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis to be submitted to health authorities of the destination country.
  • Please note: some countries require proof of vaccination or malaria prevention as a condition for entry. Therefore, you should have the International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis in your hand luggage;
  • travel with a first aid kit; put what you need and what the doctor recommended in it;
  • take all necessary precautions to prevent infectious diseases;
  • if you show symptoms of an infectious disease on board, please call a member of the cabin crew immediately – he/she will provide you with the necessary assistance;
  • immediately inform your doctor about the infectious disease after your return;
  • take special care of the children you are travelling with;
  • take out health insurance that covers all possible health risks;
  • observe the rules of behaviour in the host country.
  • Be aware of: 
    • passengers who have problems to understand security measurements shall be carried at the request of parents, adoptive parents or guardians and accompanied by an adult passenger who is capable of ensuring the safety of the disabled passenger and the security of the people around;
    • patients on stretchers can be carried provided that additional seats are arranged for on the aircraft;
  • You can get a lot of information and advice on health issues abroad from doctors and tour operators. However, you are responsible not only for your own health, but also for the health and well-being of your loved ones during your travel and on return, including the prevention of transmission of infectious diseases.

Recommendations of the World Health Organization

We recommend getting medical advice from your family doctor or workplace doctor preferably four to eight weeks before travelling by air. You should know your destination, duration of travel, and accommodation in the host country. The doctor will inform you about different health risks and suggest required vaccinations. You should provide for enough time so that your body can build up immunity after the vaccination.

It is recommended that passengers with health problems and the following categories of passengers take special care of their health and well-being:

  • pregnant women, especially those in the last four weeks of pregnancy (the last eight weeks for women with a multiple pregnancy) and during the first seven days after delivery. It is advisable to have a doctor’s certificate confirming the satisfactory state of health of the pregnant woman after the 28th week of pregnancy or in case of pregnancy pathology;
  • passengers with newborns younger than seven completed days after birth;
  • passengers with children;
  • elderly passengers;
  • passengers with disabilities;
  • passengers with a weakened immune system – immunosuppression;
  • passengers who have recently undergone surgery;
  • passengers with chronic diseases: cardiovascular, respiratory diseases, infectious diseases, gastrointestinal diseases, ear diseases, sinusitis, diabetes, epilepsy, thromboembolism, anaemia, mental disorders, hypertension, and chronic renal failure requiring hemodialysis;
  • passengers with any surgical disease that requires frequent organ/tissue transplantation; passengers suffering from cancer or haematological diseases;
  • scuba divers, who are allowed to travel by air no earlier than 24 hours after diving, and 12 hours after a two-hour immersion in order to prevent possible decompression.
  • International travellers should be aware that medical care abroad is often available only at private medical facilities and may be costly. Passengers should consider all possible health risks, and get more information from tour operators about reciprocal agreements between their country’s health authorities and those of their destination country, and take out travel medical insurance abroad. Insurance should cover all possible travel routes, emergency repatriation for health reasons, treatment, hospitalization in case of illness/accident, and repatriation in the event of death.
  • Attention! Some countries now require proof of insurance as a condition for entry. Carry a copy of you insurance policy and contact numbers of the insurance company in your hand luggage.
  • Carry a document certifying your blood group and Rh factor, the presence of allergies (medical alert bracelet) in case of an emergency situation.

For regularly updated information on safety and health risks, please go to the World Health Organization website: http://www.who.int/ith/links/national_links/en/index.html.

Travel Health Kit

  • Carry a travel health kit when travelling to regions with significant health risks (especially in certain developing countries) and areas where medical care is not readily available.
  • Travelers with chronic diseases should carry all necessary medicines and medical devices for their entire travel period. If necessary, clearly labelled drugs can be packed in their original containers in your hand luggage. In order to enforce security, sharp objects and containers with liquids of no more than 100 ml must be placed in checked baggage.
  • Carry a document (prescription) from your doctor specifying the name of the drug and dosage, and confirming the need for these medicines or other health care products to be shown to security personnel. Some countries also require a correctly completed certificate from local health authorities.
  • Your travel health kit should include basic medicines for treating common illnesses, emergencies, first aid items, drugs and medical devices that have been recommended by the doctor.
  • Do not forget to bring skin care products (for example, sunscreens), contact lens solutions, as well as personal hygiene products.
  • Following items are recommended for your travel health kit:
    • medicines for chronic diseases, as prescribed by the doctor;
    • chemoprophylaxis drugs and emergency malaria treatment (when travelling to malaria-endemic countries);
    • antipyretic drugs;
    • antibacterial agents (preferably with a broad spectrum of activity) and antiparasitic medicine;
    • analgesics, including drugs for headache relief;
    • sedatives;
    • dehydration preparations;
    • diarrhea medications;
    • antihistamines (allergy drugs);
    • common cold medications;
    • medical thermometer;
    • antibacterial ointments;
    • antiseptics (including antiseptic wipes);
    • bactericidal water disinfectants;
    • dressings (bandages, adhesive tape, sterile gauze);
    • sterile syringes, needles;
    • tweezers, scissors;
    • sun cream/lotion;
    • repellents (insect repellents; due to heavy perspiration, their effectiveness is reduced to 30-40 minutes in the tropics);
    • insecticide sprays with a persistent residual effect;
    • other items, taking into account your needs, and depending on travel time and your country of destination.
  • Packaging must contain user instructions. In all cases, expired medicines and drugs with unreadable labels on the packaging may not be used.
  • If you have health-related problems, please inform the flight attendant before takeoff about required assistance, any medications that you normally take, and where they are. Be sure to call a flight attendant immediately if your health worsens during the flight.

Preventing and Reducing the Risk of Spread of Infectious Diseases

  • Passengers should make a list of mandatory preventive vaccinations depending on their destination country and the epidemic state of this country.
  • Some countries require proof of vaccination or malaria prophylaxis as a condition for entry. In this case, you must have an International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis in your hand luggage. The certificate should be fully completed in English or French. It can also be completed in another language, in addition to either English or French. The certificate must also carry the official stamp of the institution where the procedure was performed.
  • Most vaccinations are performed at least one to two months prior to departure in order to develop immunity or identify complications. Timely consultations with your doctor and a series of specific preventive measures will allow you to avoid delaying your travel for medical reasons.
  • If you are in a high-risk infection area, you should strictly observe the doctor’s advice, and take additional precautions against infection.
  • Vaccinations are carried out in medical institutions that are licensed to provide vaccinations (to carry out preventive vaccination).
  • Immunization should be carried out in accordance with medical indications and contraindications. All persons required to be vaccinated must undergo a preliminary examination by a doctor.
  • Before a vaccine is administered, the person to be vaccinated or his/her legal representatives should be explained the need for immunization against infectious diseases, possible post-vaccination reactions and complications, as well as the effects of not receiving a vaccine; the person should then fill in a voluntary informed consent for medical intervention.
  • Persons with infectious diseases that pose a threat to others should not fly in order to avoid the risk of infecting other passengers or importing an infection into another country.
  • The airlines may unilaterally terminate the contract of carriage of any passengers whose state of health requires special conditions of air carriage, threatens the safety of passengers or other persons, as confirmed by medical documents, or creates disturbance and inconvenience for others.
  • Infectious diseases requiring further examination may occur if there is a fever (temperature of 38°C/100°F or higher), accompanied by one or more of the following signs or symptoms: a very unhealthy appearance, persistent cough, respiratory failure, persistent diarrhea, persistent vomiting, skin rash, bruises or bleeding with no previous injury, or a recent confused mental state.
  • All aircrafts are equipped with first aid kits, medical products, and a universal prevention kit.
  • Most flight attendants receive special medical training.
  • If you show symptoms of an infectious disease on board, please call a member of the cabin crew immediately – he/she will provide you with the necessary assistance and elementary anti-epidemic measures;
  • If symptoms of an infectious disease appear on board, the crew will follow instructions for actions to be initiated when a person suspected of having an infectious (parasitic) disease is discovered on board, thus requiring sanitary protection measures to be launched.
  • If you notice any changes in your health after your travel, consult a doctor immediately. Do not self-medicate! Do not waste precious time! Only a specialist can draw up an accurate diagnosis, prescribe appropriate treatment, and help you.
  • Passengers with a fever, who are returning from countries where malaria is endemic, should immediately seek medical attention. Treatment should be initiated as early as possible. Delaying medical attention is dangerous for your health and well-being!

For more information about the prevention of infectious (parasitic) diseases in the different countries, please go to the following websites:

 

Share

Leave a Reply