There are several prescription and non-prescription medications that can be considered for prevention and treatment of diseases that could be acquired abroad. The most common illnesses that should be assessed include malaria, altitude illness and traveler's diarrhea

Malaria Prevention

Malaria is an infection caused by a parasite that affects red blood cells. It is passed to humans via mosquito bites. In general, prevention with prescription medication is recommended for travelers visiting: Africa, southeast Asia, India, the Middle East, Central and South America, and parts of the Carribean. Your pre-travel consultation will assess the current risk in the areas of the countries you will be visiting as well as whether or not the type of malaria in that country is resistant to any of the available malaria medications. We will also discuss methods to avoid mosquito bites and therefore decrease your risk of contracting the illness.

Altitude Illness

When travelling to a higher altitude than you are accustomed to, it is possible to encounter symptoms of altitude illness (usually at >2500m or 8000ft). Common symptoms are:

  • Headache
  • Insomnia
  • Irritability
  • Dizziness
  • Muscle aches
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Swelling of the face, hands or feet

More serious complications can occur in some people including loss of consciousness, increased pressure on your brain, or a build up of fluid on the lungs.

The best way to prevent this is to gradually increase altitude over time. There are also prescription medications available to decrease the risk of altitude illness. There are some factors that increase the risk of altitude illness, however it is impossible to predict exactly who will be affected by this serious condition.

Travelers' Diarrhea

Travelers' diarrhea (TD) occurs in up to 60% of travelers. For most travelers, it will resolve on its own, but can have a negative impact on travel plans as most cases last about 3-4 days if left untreated.

Prevention of traveler's diarrhea includes careful avoidance of contaminated water, food and other beverages. Consideration can be give to other methods of prevention in high risk situations. There is a vaccine available as well as some non-prescription medications that can be taken in an effort to avoid this unpleasant illness.

Some traveler's will be candidates to take a prescription antibiotic with them on their trip. Part of your travel consultation will include choosing an antibiotic likely effective against bacteria in the area you will be visiting and that doesn't interact with your current medications. Typical antibiotic treatment of TD lasts for 3 days. Maintaining good fluid intake and other non-prescription medications can also be considered for treatment.