Traveling with IBD
When planning to travel with IBD, it is best to ask these two questions first:
1. What would I do if became sick?
If you are traveling, here are four suggestions for steps you can take in advance so if your disease does flare, you will be bettered prepared to deal with it:
- Have a list of your medications with you.This will make things easier if there is a sudden trip to the emergency room and will help the local doctors make the best decisions possible.
- Get and fill your prescriptions before you leave. Depending on where you’re going, it may be difficult to communicate with a local pharmacy.
- Make an appointment with a local doctor. If you are going to be away a long time, checking in with a local doctor might help in case you became ill.
- Identify nearby hospitals and pharmacies. This is easy to do these days with a smartphone. But in case the coverage is poor or your phone is damaged, consider doing this before you travel. The peace of mind will be worth it.
2. What could cause a flare or another problem?
Travel can result in flares because your diet changes, you’re exposed to local diseases that don’t occur back home, and the stress, which can be part of any travel experience even if you are having a fantastic time.
You should also think ahead about what you want to do on your trip. Some activities pose challenges that can be addressed beforehand.
Talk to someone on your care team. He or she can give you some advice what you should do when you’re away. You should also do some of your own research.
Some common issues include:
- Headed to the beach? If you have an ostomy bag, find out how to take care of it properly while swimming.
- Some IBD medications make people sensitive to sunlight. Find out if you are taking any of them. Hats, generous application of sunscreen, and being careful about when you go outside can help with photosensitivity.
- Make sure your vaccinations are up to date. And remember you can’t get live vaccines if you are on immunosupppresive medication.
Tips for traveling with IBD
Here are nine great tips for having a healthy and happy trip, wherever you are traveling to:
1. Create a health history information sheet
Your health history information sheet include
- your contact information (address, phone)
- your diagnoses
- all the medications you are taking and the dosages
- a list of all your physicians and their contact information
- emergency contact information (a parent, spouse, friend)
- a list of allergies
- a summary of your medical history
If you are traveling someplace where English isn’t widely spoken, consider getting your health history translated into the local language.
2. Keep your medications with you
Keep your medication in your carryon bag. If your medication is in your checked luggage, and it gets lost, you could have a hard time replacing your medications, especially if you are going some place that is remote or less developed.
3. Bring extra medication
If your return is delayed, either voluntarily or involuntarily, you may need extra medication.
4. Bring baby wipes
Moistened wipes can help with emergency situations when bathrooms aren’t convenient or poorly stocked with toilet paper.
5. Learn local medical and medication terms
Hospital, sick, doctors: these are words you may want to know if you are traveling some place where English isn’t spoken. Some medications have different names in other countries.
6. Check out what your insurance coverage
Health plans vary in how much they cover if you get sick overseas. You can buy special medical insurance that will some of your costs if you were to get sick and needed medical attention in another country. overseas.
7. Listen to your body
You know your body better than anyone else and you know the consequences of ignoring warning signs. Sometimes when people travel, they ignore those signs. So be aware of your limits. Rest when you need to. You’ll have a much better trip if you pace yourself.
8. Let others know if you are fatigued
Let others know when you need to rest. If you’re in a museum or an area that requires a lot of walking, consider using a wheelchair to conserve energy if needed. You may see and do more if you do.
9. Pack an emergency bag
An In Case of Emergency (ICE) bag should include your health history information sheet, a change of clothes, a copy of your identification, and your insurance card. Let other people know about your ICE bag so they can find it if it’s needed.