Summer is a great time to explore the world near and far. Along with making reservations and deciding what to pack, medical experts remind you to also pay close attention to medical concerns that might arise in foreign countries.
Dr. Richard Marx, a physician at Forsyth Internal Medicine, is board certified in both internal medicine and infectious diseases. At Forsyth Internal Medicine, he operates a certified full-service travel clinic, keeping his patients healthy regardless of where around the globe they journey.
“It’s so important to have a medical consultation prior to foreign travel to avoid ruining your trip due to illness,” Dr. Marx said. “If you get preventative advice and vaccines, most significant illnesses, such as malaria, can be prevented.”
According to Dr. Marx, the biggest health concerns encountered overseas are often contaminated food and water. Other concerns include viruses common in other areas but not regularly encountered at home. He says it is important to understand the risks and how you can avoid health dangers in the areas to which you’re traveling.
Dr. Marx also notes planning well in advance is key. “You need to come in for an appointment at least three to four weeks in advance,” he said, “because it takes time for immunity to develop after receiving vaccines.”
Dr. Marx explained that vaccines introduce foreign substances to your body so that your body can produce antibodies to fight those intruders. Your body needs time to build up those antibodies. So, getting a vaccine too close to travel will not protect you.
“Bring the itinerary of your trip to your appointment,” Dr. Marx reminded, “even down to the cities or towns you’ll be visiting, if possible.” The more specific you can be, the more specific your medical care and advice can be.
Lastly, it is wise to research medical care available in the areas in which you’ll be traveling, and to contact your health insurance provider about whether overseas care would be covered.
One month or more before your planned travel, set up an appointment with Dr. Marx at Forysth Internal Medicine by calling (336) 718-0100. You will be provided with handouts specific to each country you’ll visit, outlining health concerns and explaining vaccines required by each country along with optional vaccines and precautions to protect yourself. You will also have time during this appointment to ask any questions or bring up any specific health concerns.