Health Checks Before and After a Long Trip

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MANY people book their flights, pack their bags, and head out without having a health check. To enjoy a healthy, worry-free trip, it is highly recommended to make an appointment with your doctor for a preventive health check around six to eight weeks before your trip.

Here are some tips from Dr. Denise Herrera Lavilles, section head for adult wellness, The Medical City – Center for Wellness and Aesthetics (TMC-CWA):

It’s important that you discuss your personal travel plans with your doctor to ensure you have the correct medications and/or vaccinations for your trip.

Don’t settle for the basic diagnostic tests like a one-time CBC, X-ray, or ECG check without seeing your doctor.  A normal laboratory result does not always mean everything is okay. If you have a pre-existing condition like diabetes or hypertension, your health check itinerary is best customized according to your profile, your medical history, symptoms and your planned activities for the trip. 

For instance, persons with diabetes are generally recommended to undergo a glycosylated hemoglobin (Hba1c) test.  This helps your doctor gauge how controlled your sugars are over the past 3 months, and how effective your current treatment regimen is.

For people taking maintenance medications, liver and kidney function tests are also recommended.

If your trip involves a lot of walking, or other possibly strenuous activities (e.g. mountain-climbing), securing a cardio-pulmonary and fitness evaluation is important.  Tests your doctor may request for this include a 2D echo and/or treadmill stress test.  Additional pulmonary function test may be recommended for those with a history of asthma or significant history of cigarette smoking.  For obese or overweight individuals, a sleep test is suggested to check your risk for sleep apnea.

Long periods of immobility during long periods of travel can lead to a condition known as deep vein thrombosis (DVT). Sometimes called Economy Class Syndrome, deep vein thrombosis occurs when a blood clot forms in the deep veins nestled in the muscles. Car trips and plane rides can lead to DVT if travelers are immobile for long periods of time and if their legs are confined in a cramped position.

Additional factors that can predispose a person to developing DVT:

 Diabetes and obesity both weaken the veins and decrease blood flow, contributing to the development of DVT.

• Smoking increases the risk of DVT because it weakens the veins.

• Oral contraceptives and hormone replacement therapy put women at risk because estrogen increases blood coagulation, causing them to develop more blood clots.

Travelers with any of these conditions should be aware of the possibility of developing DVT and should see their doctors before their trip for additional recommendations on how to prevent its onset.

If you are traveling to parts of the world where certain diseases are endemic (e.g. malaria), you could also be at risk for these. Visit your doctor for preventive treatments like immunization and prophylactic medication.

It is important for your doctor to know what your current and planned activities are, as well as past incidents related to travel, whether you’ve been hospitalized during a trip abroad, what vaccinations you have received, etc.

The Medical City Center for Wellness and Aesthetics offers Customized, Optimized, Personalized (COP), preventive health check, one that is tailor-made to the specific needs of the individual. This is made possible through health profiling which is a value-added service of TMC-CWA aimed at giving patients a better understanding of their own health status. Through profiling, previous results and health check reports of each patient are retrieved, collated, tabulated and reviewed in detail by the Center’s Wellness physicians in order to show trends and emphasize health concerns that need to be addressed.

A visit to TMC-CWA for your COP preventive health check before you travel would make you feel secure about your health and let you enjoy a hassle-free, worry-free trip.

Similarly, a health check after a long trip can also help ensure that you do not have any new medical issues or health concerns acquired during your travel.