Protecting Child Health When Traveling
Travel is an opportunity to ensure the health of both you and your children, but keeping children healthy while travelling requires special precautions. There are various things you can do to safeguard against illnesses or injuries during their travels.
Start by planning ahead: speak to your pediatrician about any vaccinations or medications your child might need before travelling.
1. Plan Ahead
Travel can be stressful for all involved, but when traveling with children it’s especially essential that preparations be made ahead of time to prevent emergency situations, illness and ensure the trip goes as smoothly as possible. Planning will enable you to be better prepared in case anything arises that necessitates emergency measures and illness prevention plans during your journey.
Start off your trip right by creating a checklist of everything that needs to be completed before departing on your adventure, such as cleaning out the fridge, stopping mail delivery, packing snacks and loading your car.
As parents, you want to ensure your child has all of the medications and supplies needed for an enjoyable trip. Speak with their pediatrician or private duty nurse about what will be needed during the journey.
Make a list of medical team contacts and their contact info, so you can reach them quickly in case of an emergency. It’s also useful to maintain a document containing all pertinent health details about your child – including medical history, necessary medications, allergies and any relevant details.
Pack comfort items, such as tablets, weighted blankets, stuffed animals and noise-canceling headphones to help your child remain relaxed in any uncomfortable situations. It is particularly essential if visiting unfamiliar areas without access to basic amenities or public water sources – these will keep your child at ease and ensure an enjoyable trip!
Make sure that you find an accommodating hotel or resort where your family can spend quality time together while simultaneously disconnecting. This can provide a wonderful opportunity to unplug.
2. Be Prepared for Travel Sickness
Motion sickness can be an uncomfortable and disorienting experience that can derail any trip, particularly for children. Symptoms range from cold sweats, dizziness, headaches and vomiting – making any journey an ordeal for both you and them.
Motion sickness affects up to 25% of people and tends to dissipate over time if recognized early enough. Some travelers can become affected more easily while others might only get it occasionally.
Assist in preventing motion sickness by selecting seats where there will be less turbulence and bumps – such as near the front of an aircraft or center of a ship.
Focus your eyes on earth-bound objects like the horizon or land masses rather than on what lies inside your car or boat; to do this effectively look out the window.
If you or your child become sick during travel, it’s essential that they contact their physician as soon as possible. He or she may prescribe medicines which will make travel more bearable for all involved.
Scopolamine (Transderm Scop) and promethazine (Phenergan) can both be obtained without needing a valid valid prescription, enabling patients to take them safely at home.
Scopolamine is the go-to medication for travel sickness and should be taken prior to any symptoms appearing; its patch can be placed behind your ear 6-8 hours prior to travel.
Promethazine should also be taken two hours before travel; its effect is similar to scopolamine but less potency and more duration are experienced.
Keep a plastic bag on hand should your child become sick and need to vomit; this will keep them comfortable until they can reach a doctor or return to their hotel room.
3. Boost Your Child’s Immune System
Strong immunity can be strengthened through diet, regular exercise, and healthy habits. Strengthening your child’s immunity before traveling will help them stay healthy while protecting them against travel-related sickness.
As germs invade your body, they attach themselves to antigen-binding receptors on immune cells known as antigen receptors and trigger your defenses by producing antibodies which destroy these antigens and are ready for the next time they strike.
As children mature, they come into contact with various antigens that become part of their natural immunity. Over time, this becomes part of their immunity mechanism.
As children are susceptible to numerous germs, vaccination is an essential form of protection, according to Maria Lioudis, M.D., director of pediatric vaccines at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Accordingly, proper childhood vaccination can protect kids against dangerous pathogens like measles, mumps, chicken pox and rotavirus which pose dangers.
Strengthening your child’s immune system not only protects them against illness; it can also speed their recovery time. Healthy diet and regular exercise both play an integral part in strengthening this aspect of immunity; so can decreasing stress and inflammation levels.
Supplements shouldn’t replace healthy eating habits; however, they may help your child bolster their immunity if their food intake doesn’t adequately support this goal. A quality multivitamin may help, or targeted immunity supplements that target specific nutrients like Vitamin C or D may also be an option.
Phytonutrients, naturally present in fruits and vegetables, provide immunity-enhancing compounds. Carotenoids found in carrots, green beans, oranges and strawberries are just a few examples of such plant-based nutrients which may strengthen immunity against diseases.
4. Watch for Waterborne Infections
When traveling abroad with children, it is essential that they remain vigilant against waterborne infections that could impact them. These could arise from poor sanitation practices in backcountry streams and lakes or from polluted waters in swimming pools, whirlpool spas or wells.
Giardiasis, one of the most prevalent waterborne infections affecting children’s GI tract, can be spread worldwide by an infection caused by a micro-parasite found in poor sanitation environments and unsafe water supplies, and can result in diarrheal episodes, stomach cramps, bloating, nausea and bouts of watery stools.
Dysentery can be an extremely dangerous infection that leads to severe diarrhea. Without prompt replacement of fluids, dehydration may occur leading to death from this illness.
Whenever traveling abroad with children, be sure to consult a medical doctor in advance in order to protect them from infectious diseases. Your healthcare provider can recommend safe water and food supplies as well as vaccinations and medicines that can protect against potential infectious threats.
Waterborne infections are most frequently spread via contaminated water sources such as sewerage systems, human or animal feces or runoff from wastewater treatment plants.
To reduce your risk of these infections, only consume or bathe with properly treated bottled or factory sealed water – or avoid any that has come into contact with sewage or contaminants such as pesticides.
Diarrhea is one of the most widespread waterborne illnesses that could impact your child when traveling abroad. While mild symptoms usually resolve within several days, severe cases could even become life-threatening without treatment.
5. Protect Your Child from Insects
Your child can best avoid insect bites by using an approved repellent with at least 10% active ingredients – you can find such products at most pharmacies, supermarkets or travel health clinics.
Repellents that contain DEET are the most effective at protecting against mosquito and tick bites and should be used whenever possible. Plus, DEET can be safely applied in appropriate concentrations without harming human health.
Picaridin or lemon eucalyptus oil-based insect repellents may also be effective and safe, though more frequent applications might be required than DEET to achieve optimal protection and may cause adverse skin reactions in some people.
Apply insect repellent cautiously and only as necessary; avoid contact with eyes and mouth, only enough repellent should cover exposed skin on clothing as well as exposed areas on your child.
Mosquito netting is an effective product to use on cribs, strollers and playpens in order to protect children from insect bites while outdoors or sleeping in buildings without screens.
Prior to traveling, visit a health care provider to gain more insight into what types of bugs exist at your destination and which diseases they transmit. With this knowledge at hand, it will allow for more informed choices when selecting insect repellents for protection and when and how often to apply them.
Avoid clothing, perfumes and lotions that attract mosquitoes when walking in wooded areas. Wear light-colored clothing with long sleeves and tuck pants into socks when necessary to cover feet from mosquito bites.
insect repellents containing DEET or icaridin are the optimal choices to protect your children against mosquito and tick bites when traveling, so read the label and follow all instructions to ensure accurate application.