Number 6 Medicine
This is an often overlooked aspect of the travel experience, but if done correctly, one can save themselves a lot of time and agony while traveling. I am no medical expert, so I enlisted the help of my friend Dr. Brandon Green to help explain the benefits of bringing along a bag of remedies!
1. What are the benefits of taking a pain reliever and some benadryl to a foreign country?
For starters, you never can predict what will happen on a trip. You could always get a headache, sun burnt, or mild pains from bruises/injury/etc. There is a whole multitude of reasons for which you could experience mild to moderate pain on a vacation. It’s beneficial to have a pain reliever in these types of situations. Over the counter pain relievers such as Motrin (Ibuprofen), Tylenol (Acetaminophen), and Aleve (Naproxen) may be available in the country that you are visiting. However, typically these items will go by different Brand/Trade names as well as different generic names. For example, acetaminophen (Tylenol) is commonly called paracetamol in most other countries. If you are not familiar, one could really struggle to find the product that they are looking for. The same goes with Bendaryl (Diphenhydramine). Benadryl is most commonly used for allergies and as a sleep aid. You never know if you may have an allergic reaction to something that you eat or the local flora/fauna or just a need for a sleep aid.
2. What do you think are some disadvantages of buying medicine in another country?
In America, we have the FDA in place to ensure that manufacturers of drug products follow good manufacturing practices. Regardless of your views on the FDA or government oversight in general, the FDA does a pretty good job of protecting the public’s safety. Drug manufacturers are inspected on a frequent basis. If a manufacturer is not adhering to acceptable standards, their products do not reach the American public. In foreign countries, you are not always guaranteed this. This is not to say that all foreign countries have tainted drug products. I would be willing to trust products that come from countries within the European Union. However, even though the product is what it claims to be, you might not recognize the name due to naming differences. You know that what you are getting in a medication when it comes from a store within the USA.
3. What advice would you give someone if they were traveling for any length of time?
I would recommend to anyone traveling for any length of time, especially oversees, to take with them:
- Water purification tablets
- Over the counter pain reliever (e.g. Tylenol, Motrin, Aleve)
- Anti-diarrheal (e.g. Imodium)
- Antihistamine (e.g. Benadryl)
All of these items can be found at your neighborhood pharmacy. All of them have generic equivalents and all are relatively cheap. Getting them before your trip, just might save you a lot of time and agony while on your trip. It’s also best to check with the Traveler’s Health website from the CDC (http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/) for specific warning/precautions on the location you are travelling to. None of this should be taken as substitution for medical advice from your physician. If you have any chronic conditions or are on prescribed medication it is best to check with your physician/pharmacist before taking any medications.
4. Are there any remedies or recommendations that you have?
I don’t really want to make any specific recommendations, because every situation can be unique. I just recommend reading up on the CDC site about that area that you will be travelling to and not taking herbal remedies/homeopathic/natural products from that country. Most have these have not had clinical trials to prove that they are either safe or effective.
Brandon S. Green, Pharm.D., R.Ph. is a Clinical Systems Coordinator & Pharmacist for University of Kentucky Healthcare.