ASK THE EXPERT: What are your questions for our health guru?

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ASK THE EXPERT: What are your questions for our health guru?

Avatar for Andy
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Hi guys,

We’re going to introduce an official Health Expert on the site to answer your questions, give tips and basically dish out general advice on any health-related matters, be it sex stuff, tropical diseases or maybe just what painkillers to carry with you.

It would be great if you could come up with some cool questions to kick things off. They could be on any matter related to travel health.

My question would be about malaria medicine:

Advice and products change all the time, so what does our Health Expert reckon is the best malaria medicine out there right now? And does he have any other malaria-avoidance tips?

     
Avatar for Denton32
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what does our Health Expert reckon is the best malaria medicine out there right now?

Completely depends on your destination.

Who is the health expert? A nurse? Doctor?
From what organisation? The NHS/travel doctor?

I don’t have a question at the moment…. but I will get thinking!

 

 

     
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Do you need anti-malarials in Luang Prabang Laos? (going to teach for 2 weeks in August).

Also, how many weeks worth of prescription medication are you allowed to travel with (going to Bangkok, Laos, Oz)?

     
Avatar for Alexandra_q2
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Completely depends on your destination.

It also depends on your medical background (what medication you take, any past or present conditions, past vaccine history, reactions to medications, allergies, psychological state… and so on).

Any advice given here by the medical health expert should not replace that of your GP and should be taken as general guidance only. Only you and your GP (or person who has access to your medical records) can give the last word on which medication/vaccines are required for your personal circumstances and trip.

 

     
Avatar for Denton32
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Also, how many weeks worth of prescription medication are you allowed to travel with (going to Bangkok, Laos, Oz)?

That’s not really a health question - that is a matter of what each individual country’s legislation is on carrying in drugs, and what types.

I know for Australia that you have to have the prescription with the medication you are carrying, and I think you are only allowed to carry 3 months worth of medication. But it may depend on what it is.
I had no trouble coming in with a 12 month supply of my contraceptive pill, but if I wanted to get some sent from home I could only send 3 months.

Check out “customs” or something similar for each country.
Here is some info on the Oz stuff - you’ll have to do a bit of reading to find the info though.
http://www.customs.gov.au/site/page4369.asp

     
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Thanks, but my travel nurse is next-to-useless. Or at least she was on the trip I went on last year. They appear to have no specialised knowledge about any particular place and the advice on whether to use anti-malarials in Costa Rica was “It’s up to you”.

     
Avatar for Alexandra_q2
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That’s awful. It winds me up when GPs/nurses don’t give helpful advice. You’d think they’d have the sense to say “I don’t really know the answer, but I’d recommend you call X private clinic or speak to X nurse who knows more than me” etc rather than just fobbing you off.

If your GP or nurse is useless, you should contact a private travel clinic, even if it’s just for advice on what to decide, and then take that advice to your doctor for GP prices.

You should check out Nomad Travel Clinics and MASTA (both give advice over the phone and have clinics nationwide).

You may have to pay £10-20 for an appointment or consultation but the peace of mind is well worth it.

Lexi

     
Avatar for Andy
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Who is the health expert? A nurse? Doctor?
From what organisation? The NHS/travel doctor?

 

I cannot yet reveal the identity of our expert! He is a doctor, though, a GP in London who also specialises in travel health.

This is good stuff. I get really confused by malaria, as I said earlier. Malaria areas can be confusing also. They change all the time, and with the seasons!

 

     
Avatar for Andy
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Ok, I can confirm our site ‘expert’ for health and travel will be Dr. Seb Kalwij.

He’s been featured on the site before, and is making a comeback!

As has been stated previously, always seek advice and info from various proper sources, never just one figure.

     
Avatar for Alexandra_q2
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I have a question for Dr Seb:

I had the final rabies jab of the 3-part course on 31st May 2008 (Verorab) and would like to know if I require a booster to avoid me requiring the immunoglobulin/5 vaccines in-country in the event of a scratch/lick/bite from an animal with (or suspected to have) rabies.

If I did not have a booster would I need to have the entire course again? How long does the rabies vaccine (in my case, Verorab) last? My own research leads me to believe that some opinions are that the vaccine lasts 3 years, and some think 5.

I travel abroad at least twice a year to remote locations on expeditions (e.g. last month I was trekking in the Sahara and this Sept I will be hiking in Peru). I love animals but obviously avoid the crazy acting ones, but will happily pet a cat or dog that seems friendly.

My private clinic travel nurse says that if I am not directly working with animals there is not much point in having a booster at the moment, but knowing how horrible rabies is compared to the price/ inconvenience of a single booster jab, I’d just like to ask your opinion.

Thanks!
Lexi

     
Avatar for James1985
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I have a question..

Ive got this lump on my arse…

     
Avatar for Denton32
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Ive got this lump on my arse…

That reminds me!


Every time I go to the local national parks (and even some beaches) around Darwin and Australia, I get attacked by sandflies.

I never feel them biting me, and I use repellent… I’ve tried lots of different brands, with different % of deet, and all is rated for tropical use and says it will deter sandflies… nothing works.

So I have two questions -

1. any (natural-ish) remedies for stopping itches and reducing swelling?
My current bites are everywhere and kinda turn in to a rash.
Someone has recommended 25% Dettol, 25% baby oil, 50% water… not convinced!

2. any (natural-ish, or not) formulae for repelling the little wankers?!

I don’t want to have bites all over my arse again! (Even though I was wearing denim shorts…. I reckon they must have pounced when I squatted for a wee…..!)

 

     
Avatar for James1985
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2. any (natural-ish, or not) formulae for repelling the little wankers?!

 

Marmite! i know people say its a myth but i swear down when i had a teaspoon a day of the stuff i was never bitten, not even ONCE!

 

     
Avatar for Alexandra_q2
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So I have two questions -

1. any (natural-ish) remedies for stopping itches and reducing swelling?
My current bites are everywhere and kinda turn in to a rash.
Someone has recommended 25% Dettol, 25% baby oil, 50% water… not convinced!

2. any (natural-ish, or not) formulae for repelling the little wankers?!

I don’t want to have bites all over my arse again! (Even though I was wearing denim shorts…. I reckon they must have pounced when I squatted for a wee…..!)

Check out this link: http://www.byron.nsw.gov.au/protect-yourself-from-biting-midges-sand-flies

-The bottom line (excuse the pun) is for question 1 - anti-histamines, or as James says Marmite (or Vitamin B1). They don’t stop them biting you, but they stop you reacting to them.
“Biting midges have a histamine like substance in their saliva which can cause intense itching in sensitive individuals. To prevent acute allergic reaction and allow the body to develop its own immunity to midge bites vitamin B1 (thiamine) can be tried. This vitamin has an anti-histamine type action.”

-And in answer to question 2 - baby oil and Dettol is recommended! Just be careful not to go out in the sun lathered in baby oil because you’ll fry!
“Sensitive individuals or young children not wishing to use commercial repellents can try liberal applications of baby oil to exposed skin to reduce bites. An effective home repellent can be made up with equal parts of baby oil, Dettol and an aromatic oil such as citronella or lavender. Local research has shown that oil extracted from the lemon scented gum Eucalyptus citriodora is also a good midge repellent.”

     
Avatar for Driseb
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Hello

Your Travel Health Advisor is a London based GP: Dr Sebastian Kalwij. I have travelled extensively myself and I give Travel health advice to patients in my own practice on a daily basis.

Malaria is serious business. Do not underestimate the risk. Low risk is not the same as No risk.

The best choice of medication depends on many factors: Country you are going to, length of stay, activities, accommodation, previous known allergic reaction, price etc. Advice needs to be tailor-made.

Bite avoidance: Not every mosquito is one which transmits malaria and only experts can tell these apart. Bed nets are important, long sleeved shirts and trousers, shoes and socks.

Dr Seb

     
Avatar for Driseb
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Agree
Destination and type of travel is the most important factor.