How to take care of your child's health when traveling abroad?

Article by Resident Doctor Nguyen Thi Hong Tho - Neonatology Specialist, Vinmec Phu Quoc International General Hospital
When children travel abroad, the environment, drinking water and food may not be suitable, but the child's body has not adapted or the resistance is weak, the child is very susceptible to infection. Therefore, parents need to take precautions to ensure their children's health during family outings.

1. Prepare before traveling

a. Get information about health problems at tourist destinations
If traveling in the country, you can read or listen to news about epidemics on newspapers, radio, television or on the official websites of the Ministry of Health If the area is having the best epidemic, please change your destination or postpone it temporarily. trip to protect health, especially in the case where there is a COVID-19 epidemic.
When traveling abroad, you should look up information related to the current health of your destination country through websites such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or the World Health Organization ( WHO). You can type keywords to find the following 2 websites: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and World Health Organization Look up recent diseases and immunization requirements if your child needs to go there.
Researching issues related to the destination in advance also helps you and your child prepare appropriate luggage. For example, you are in the Mekong Delta but you are out sightseeing in Sa Pa, Lao Cai to catch the snow coming in. In December, the temperature difference is nearly 20 degrees without you taking measures to keep the child warm, which can cause the child to suffer from cold shock leading to acute pneumonia.
b. Personal health check
To ensure physical and mental health for the trip, you should have a general health check as well as complete vaccinations for children, especially when going abroad. Pay attention to information about areas with malaria, dengue fever or seasonal flu epidemics... It is necessary to prepare nets to avoid mosquito bites or vaccinate necessary vaccines a few weeks in advance to ensure safety. Vaccines work when you're already traveling. In case children have chronic diseases such as asthma, epilepsy, etc., they should be re-examined before the trip and prepare necessary medicines for the children. Ask your doctor about what to do and what to avoid while traveling so as not to affect your child's health. When going from the outdoors to the room, the child should not be bathed immediately, but should wait for the child to stop sweating and be less tired. At the same time, take a quick warm bath and dry your body to avoid getting cold.
If possible, you can share with your doctor about your intended destination, with medical information and knowledge of the destination, the doctor can prescribe enough medicine or spare a few doses in case of difficulty. difficult to buy medicine at your destination. When you need to use the medicine, you need to carefully read the instructions on when and how to take it. Because some drugs should be taken at certain intervals to avoid overdose.
c. Prepare necessary medicines when the child is traveling
In addition to prescription drugs used to treat the child's current medical condition (if any), you can prepare some other necessary over-the-counter medicines such as:
Antihistamines (antiallergic) Pain relievers, fever reducers such as paracetamol Ointments or creams for insect/mosquito bites Eye drops, nose drops Basic first aid supplies such as bandages, cotton swabs , pull... Remember to bring all your prescriptions and you can copy them to your phone to avoid losing your luggage and losing your medicines.
d. Prepare some basic first aid skills. If you will be traveling far away, improve or test your first aid skills by reading a book or taking a first aid class for drowning, heat stroke, etc.
e. Buy travel insurance. The right type of travel insurance is based on the individual health insurance policy, the destination and the activities during the trip. This will be very useful if your child needs to use and pay for medical bills when they get sick while traveling.

2. Take care of your health while traveling

2.1. Prevention Diarrhea This is one of the common health problems many travelers encounter. Other diseases such as cholera or dysentery are also caused by ingesting contaminated food and water. Please note the following:
a. Food
Only eat boiled and peeled foods. Limit eating raw vegetables or salads if you do not really trust the kitchen there. As for fruit, eat only the washed and peeled variety. If the fruit cannot be peeled, you should soak them in a brine or iodine solution for about 15 minutes before giving them to your baby.
Eat hot food, ask for freshly cooked food to avoid digestive problems.
Avoid using dairy products for babies, especially in tropical climates, because pasteurization of these products may not be guaranteed.
Take acidophilus probiotics. Acidophilus probiotics are natural yogurt yeasts that can help the body fight bacteria. Or more simply, eat yogurt every day while traveling.
If it suits your taste, you should not give your child too much food because strange foods will make your baby full, indigestion, vomiting or diarrhea immediately.
b. Drinking water:
Every day, children need to drink 1-1.5 liters of water. Lack of water can make the body exhausted, tired, affecting the trip.
Drink only boiled, purified/sterilized water, preferably bottled drinking water. Otherwise, boil the water before drinking. Children should not drink ice to prevent water from being boiled before making ice. Always brush your child's teeth every day before going to bed.
When buying bottled water, check the cap in case the bottle has been opened and refilled with tap water. Carbonated mineral waters are the least likely to be counterfeited.
2.2. Get plenty of rest Moving between locations with different time zones can be tiring for kids. This condition will ease as the baby gradually adapts to the new circadian rhythm. Therefore, with long-term sightseeing trips, parents should have a reasonable sleep regime. Children should not stay late in the fun until early morning, health will be affected. Especially when children have air or motion sickness, they need more time to rest and recover before enjoying the trip.
2.3. Find local health information to prevent emergencies To be more proactive in emergency situations such as a child's fall, allergy to insect stings, diarrhea, food allergies or even danger. If you are in danger of life, you need to find out about the health care where you go and how to contact them when needed.

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