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Ten Do's, Don'ts and Don't Bothers to Beat Seasonal Sniffles…and Worse

‘Tis the season for colds, flu and general ague…and wading into crowds of sneezing, wheezing fellow travelers – particularly with this year’s flu vaccine shortage – does not improve the odds of arriving at one’s destination unexposed to whatever is “going around.”

According to Dr. Walter B. Koppel, medical director MEDEX Corporation, a leading provider of travel assistance and international medical insurance, popular winter travel venues, whether in colder or warmer climates, can increase the risk of colds and flu. “The change in the air coming into your lungs is enough to trigger viral growth in lungs and sinuses, explains Dr. Koppel. “Still, with crowds of travelers at their peak during the holiday season, people and not climate are most often responsible for passing colds and flu.”

To help keep holiday travelers a tad happier and healthier, MEDEX provides the following preventative tips:

The Do's
1- Most germs spread by contact. However you travel, wherever you go, wash your hands frequently and carry moist towellettes for times when soap and water are not available.

2- If a flu-shot is not available, ask your doctor about the nasal spray flu vaccine (for ages 5- 49 only), OR about three preventative prescription drugs: Tamiflu (effective for influenza A and B virus strains) or Symmetrel and Flumadine (both effective for influenza A only). Tamiflu can also be effective when started immediately following potential flu exposure.

3- Stress decreases immunity. To reduce holiday stress, avoid caffeine (which increases heart rate and heightens stressful feelings). For more help, ask your Doctor about prescribing an anti-anxiety drug.

4- Be prepared with affordable emergency medical kits. While MEDEX provides all kinds of emergency medical assistance for travelers including evacuation, we also recommend and supply travelers’ medical kits which can include temporary solutions for a lost dental filling to sealed packages of sterile sutures and syringes for trips to more exotic locales.

5- When traveling in cramped quarters avoid Deep Vein Thrombosis (which causes blood clots in the legs) by walking, stretching your legs or simply flexing your ankles in an up and down motion about once every hour and a half..

6- Keep prescription medications in their original pharmacy-labeled containers to avoid questions (or confiscation) at customs and pack them for safe-keeping and easy access in your carry-on luggage, purse or briefcase.

7- When traveling by air with children and babies, equalize their ear pressure during take-offs and landings by giving infants a pacifier or baby bottle to suck on. Older children and adults can alleviate ear pressure by chewing gum.

The Don'ts (and Don't Bothers)

8- Don't mega-dose Vitamin C or other vitamins in an attempt to avoid getting colds or flu. Keeping to the recommended dosage avoids such potential complications as kidney stones.

9- Don't bother wearing a surgical mask (or those battery operated air-filters) to avoid breathing airplane cabin air. Recirculated airplane cabin air is safe and remarkably well filtered for germs and bacteria.

10- Don't bother bringing your own bottled water on domestic flights. Water on domestic flights (and major western international carriers) generally comes bottled and is opened in front of you. Caution should still be shown on smaller, international carriers.