When we plan our trips, we never imagine getting ill. However, our bodies are creatures of habit and any change to our outside puts our insides in stress mode which lowers our immune system, no matter if its a fun trip or not. Diets change, our activity levels change, sleep patterns change and even the comfort of our sleep is different. All of this at once can surely bring on some kind of sickness.
Sure, most places, you can find a drugstore or convenient store if you forgot to bring medicines along, but what happens if you are out in a remote location trying to “get away” and the diarrhea sets in? Or at an amusement park and everyone else loves the rides, but you can’t handle the motions, but don’t want to be left out?
It just makes good sense to pack the meds before you leave home.
These are the 12 MUST HAVES in your carry bag:
- Antidiarrheal medication (for example, bismuth subsalicylate, loperamide)
This medication is used to treat sudden diarrhea (including traveler’s diarrhea). It works by slowing down the movement of the gut. This decreases the number of bowel movements and makes the stool less watery. Loperamide is also used to reduce the amount of discharge in patients who have undergone an ileostomy. It is also used to treat on-going diarrhea in people with inflammatory bowel disease.
Loperamide treats only the symptoms, not the cause of the diarrhea (e.g., infection). Treatment of other symptoms and the cause of the diarrhea should be determined by your doctor.
When your body comes into contact with whatever your allergy trigger is — pollen, ragweed, pet dander, or dust mites, for example — it makes chemicals called histamines. They cause the tissue in your nose to swell (making it stuffy), your nose and eyes to run, and your eyes, nose, and sometimes mouth to itch. Sometimes you may also get an itchy rash on your skin, called hives.
- Decongestant, alone or in combination with antihistamine
- Anti-motion sickness medication
The cause of motion sickness is complex and not fully understood, but most experts believe that it arises due to conflicts in sensory input to the brain. The brain senses motion through different signaling pathways from the inner ear (sensing motion, acceleration, and gravity), the eyes (vision), and the deeper tissues of the body (proprioceptors). When the body moves involuntarily, such as when riding in a vehicle, there may be conflict among these different types of sensory input to the brain. The sensory apparatus in the inner ear seems to be most critical in the development of motion sickness.
- Medicine for pain or fever
Over-the-counter medicines that you can use to stop a headache include:
- Acetaminophen (such as Tylenol).
- Aspirin (such as Bayer).
- Ibuprofen (such as Advil).
- Naproxen (such as Aleve).
- Medicine that combines aspirin, acetaminophen, and caffeine (such as Excedrin).
Try to avoid taking over-the-counter drugs more than 3 times a week, because you may get rebound headaches. These are different from tension headaches. They usually occur after headache medicine has worn off. This leads you to take another dose. After a while, you get a headache whenever you stop taking the medicine.
- Mild laxative
Laxatives work in different ways, and the effectiveness of each laxative type varies from person to person. In general, bulk-forming laxatives, also referred to as fiber supplements, are the gentlest on your body and safest to use long term. Metamucil and Citrucel fall into this category.
Stimulant laxatives, such as Dulcolax and Senokot, are the harshest and should be used only occasionally.
- Cough suppressant/expectorant
The role of cough medicine is to ease symptoms while your body heals.
As a glance at the drugstore shelves will show you, there are many, many brands of OTC cough medicines. But there are only three basic types:
Expectorants help thin mucus, making it easier to cough up. The ingredient guaifenesin is the only expectorant in the U.S., so look for it on the label if you need an expectorant.
Combination cough products have more than one active ingredient. They have both guaifenesin and dextromethorphan. Cough medicines may also contain ingredients to help coat and soothe the throat.
Combination products may have medicines to ease other symptoms, that may include decongestants for stuffy nose, antihistamines for allergies or a runny nose, or painkillers. Choose a medicine that matches your symptoms.
- Cough drops
Cough drops can also help relieve a cough and may ease a sore throat.
When excessive amounts of acids are produced in the stomach the natural mucous barrier that protects the lining of the stomach can damage the esophagus in people with acid reflux. Antacids contain alkaline ions that chemically neutralize stomach gastric acid, reducing damage and relieving pain.
- Antifungal and antibacterial ointments or creams
There are several different antifungal preparations that are used to treat various fungal infections. They come as creams, sprays, solutions, shampoos, tablets designed to go into the vagina (pessaries), medicines to take by mouth, and injections. The length of treatment depends on what type of fungal infection you have, how severe it is and if you have any other health problems – for example, problems with your immune system. Some courses of treatment can be as short as a few days (for example, for vaginal thrush). Other courses can be as long as eight weeks (for example, for ringworm infection of the scalp).
Antibiotics – Neosporin and Polysporin are popular topical antibiotics that come in both a cream and ointment form. Neosporin consists of three different antibiotics, neomycin sulfate, polymixin B sulfate and bacitracin. Polysporin is a combination of two antibiotics, bacitracin and polymixin B sulfate. Generic versions of topical antibiotics are also available, usually marketed as “triple antibiotic” ointment or cream. Topical antibiotics are used to aid healing of minor cuts, scrapes, and burns. Since many people are allergic to neomycin, it may be best to use a topical antibiotic that does not contain this ingredient.
Here are some guidelines for deciding when to use an ointment and when to use a cream:
- Creams are best when covering large areas of the skin or to avoid the greasiness associated with an ointment.
- Wet or “weeping” skin lesions, such as eczema or poison ivy, are best treated with a cream (or gel).
- Ointments are best when treating dry skin conditions, such as psoriasis.
- Ointments allow greater penetration of the active ingredient in the topical medication, whether it is an antibiotic, steroid, or anti-fungal medication.
- The best moisturizers are in ointment form.
- Ointments may be better to use on sensitive skin since many creams are manufactured with sensitizing preservatives.
- 1% hydrocortisone cream
This medication is used to treat a variety of skin conditions (e.g., insect bites, poison oak/ivy, eczema, dermatitis, allergies, rash, itching of the outer female genitals, anal itching). Hydrocortisone reduces the swelling, itching, and redness that can occur in these types of conditions. This medication is a mild corticosteroid.
- Lubricating eye drops
A good way to gather all or most of the items in this list is to purchase a Travel Medicine/ First Aid Kit before your trip. Then you can always be ready!
Medique 77501 International Traveler First Aid Kit with Polybags
Click image to purchase on Amazon for $22.09
Large nylon zipper bag
Great for international travel
Gives you the products with the ingredients you know and trust
Products are packages in poly bags for ease of use
31 different first aid and medical products