Family at airport


Over the river and through the woods...It’s time for holiday travel. Whether you will be hitting the road or your loved ones will be winging their way to you, getting there shouldn’t dampen your holiday spirit due to illness or injury. We asked area experts to share some of their top tips for staying healthy during this busy travel season.

Dr. Richard Ihnat, an internal medicine physician at SSM St. Mary’s Health Center, offers this advice for healthy air travel:

● Don’t forget to pack prescription medicines in original bottles in your carry-on luggage.

●Airplanes have notoriously dry air: Stay hydrated during flight by drinking plenty of water once on board.

● Taking sleeping pills and drinking alcohol on a flight can be bad news when you get into your rental car at your destination. Use caution and talk to your primary-care physician if you think you’ll need help with sleep or anxiety issues during your flight.

●Walk up and down the aisles to prevent blood clots if the flight is more than two hours long. If you cannot do this, point and flex your toes at regular intervals and rotate your feet from the ankles to help maintain blood flow.

● Pay attention to the safety briefing at the start of the flight. Emergencies are rare, but knowing what to do could mean the difference between life or death in a crisis.

If you’ll be traveling by car, Dr. H. Thomas Johnson, a SLUCare family physician, shares these tips:

● Get lots of rest prior to your trip. Driving while sleepy is dangerous and there’s no reason to risk falling asleep at the wheel.

● Eat a healthy diet and drink plenty of water in the weeks leading up to your trip. A balanced, nutritional diet and adequate hydration provides energy and helps maintain immune function.

● Follow the rules of the road: Drive the speed limit and always wear a seat belt. Never drink and drive or text and drive. Both result in auto fatalities.

● Take frequent breaks on long road trips. A few minutes to stretch your legs keeps you sharper while driving, helps the kids release some energy, and helps prevent blood clots in the elderly and other high-risk individuals.

Whether you travel by road or air, everyone can benefit from a few general holiday wellness guidelines, provided by Dr. Kenneth Poole of Mercy Clinic Internal Medicine:

● Make regular exercise a priority.

● Minimize your consumption of sweets and focus on meals that feature fresh, green, leafy vegetables.

● If you are planning to travel abroad, see your primary-care physician four to six weeks prior to your departure to ensure you have appropriate pre-trip vaccines and medication supplies.

● If you are ill prior to your travel date, check with your doctor to make sure travel is safe. Also, consider the wellbeing of those you are visiting. Colds and flu-like illnesses can be easily spread to infants, the elderly or people who have certain types of chronic diseases.

A little common sense and some basic precautions will help ensure you enjoy a healthy, happy holiday near or far.