In my house, when something breaks, (and I am usually the perpetrator) I can either fix it myself or pay someone to do it right the first time. When my estate documents needed to be reexamined, I thought that an attorney was a better choice than relying upon a web site that promised competence for the price of dinner and a movie. When success is important, hire a professional. When your health is at stake, wouldn’t you want a doctor’s advice?
The reason that visiting a physician trained in travel medicine should be on your pre-travel itinerary is because international travel is also a medical journey. Consider the following inquiries and decide whose advice you would seek.
- Do I need malaria medication? Which one?
- How do I avoid unsafe food and beverages?
- Do I need vaccinations? Which ones?
- Should I bring prescription medicines with me just in case the need arises? When should I take them?
- What if I get sick abroad?
- How does my personal medical history affect my travel plans?
These medical questions can be answered best by physicians. In Travel Medicine, there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach. CDC and other websites are excellent resources, but their vaccine recommendations may not be right for you. For example, these general resources may advise a particular traveler vaccine, but you and your physician may decide that it is not necessary considering your own individual travel plans and medical history. In addition, it’s not an easy call to know when to start antibiotics for traveler’s diarrhea when you are a few thousand miles from home. These issues require medical knowledge and, more importantly, sound judgment. Judgment, after all, is why we go to a doctor in the first place. Otherwise, we could just look up our medical treatments ourselves.
If you need medical advice, as international travelers do, then seek the counsel of the professional that is best qualified to do so. Don’t get tangled up in the WEB or accept a ‘shot in the arm’ from just anyone.
Every traveler needs an interesting destination. Is my next posting on your itinerary?