Air Travel Advice for Senior Citizens

Jan 4th, 2010 | By James E Becker | Category: Senior Travel

Merck.com offers air travel advice to folks who are going abroad.  Pertinent topics include traveling with children, decreased O2 tension, low cabin humidity, motion sickness, pregnancy, restricted mobility, turbulence and other issues that many travelers may face are addressed on this site.  

About 1 in 30 people traveling abroad requires emergency care. Illness in a foreign country may involve significant difficulties. Many insurance plans, including Medicare, are not valid in foreign countries; overseas hospitals often require a substantial cash deposit for nonresidents, regardless of insurance. Travel insurance plans, including some that arrange for emergency evacuation, are available through commercial agents, travel agencies, and some major credit card companies.  Want to learn more about vaccinations, injury and death, traveler’s diarrhea, schistomiasis (blood flukes) and problems after returning home?  It is all here and more. 

Planning and preparation reduce medical risks of travel. Travelers should carry their drugs, extra eyeglasses or other corrective lenses (as well as a current written prescription for either), and hearing-aid batteries in a carry-on bag in case their checked baggage is delayed, lost, or stolen. Drugs should be kept in their original labeled containers. Travelers who need to carry opioids (pain relievers), syringes, or large amounts of drugs should have a prescription or verifying letter from a physician to avoid possible security or customs complications. A medical record summary (including ECG for those with significant cardiac history) is invaluable if a traveler becomes ill. Travelers subject to disabling illness (e.g., epilepsy) or those with chronic disease should wear a medical identification bracelet or necklace. 

Merck’s section on air travel is particularly well done.  Ever heard of barotitis?  It is what happens when you fly high in the sky and face pressure differences.  Untreated dental problems or recent dental procedures may become painful when air pressure changes.  I can attest to this as I have experienced it especially upon descent and landing abroad on numerous occasions.  Painful earaches and inability to clear the eustachian tubes also contribute to barotitis.  They say blow hard on your thumb, yawn lots or chew gum, but these helped me very little.  People with upper respiratory inflammation can have lots of problems too. 

Merck’s advice on Circadian dysrhythmia (jet lag): Rapid travel across multiple time zones disrupts the normal circadian rhythm.  This is especially significant if this is your first time for flying across several time zones.  There are means to decrease its effect, and the Merck article offers helpful suggestions.

JEB



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