Staying Healthy Overseas
No one ever plans to get sick on a summer mission. Take proper precautions now and while overseas to keep yourself healthy. It is also a good idea to get a physical exam and dental check up. This could help prevent problems that might arise while overseas.
If you have a chronic or present condition, such as diabetes, asthma, hypertension, or other, you need to be sure that this is written on your Emergency Authorization form.
The following is a list of the medications and drugs that students and staff members have found helpful to have on hand:
A round of antibiotics. Ask your doctor and he/she will prescribe it for you.
Lomotil (prescription for diarrhea)
Cold medicine (e.g. Comtrex)
Pepto Bismol tablets
Tinactin (anti-fungal ointment)
Antibiotic ointment (e.g. Neosporin)
Laxatives (e.g. Metamucil)
Anti-itch cream (e.g. Campho-Phenique)
Women: Diflucan, Gyna-lotrimin/Monistat 7
Foods and Beverages to Avoid Overseas
You will receive specific instructions about what foods and beverages to avoid from our staff when you arrive overseas. In some countries you will be told to avoid the tap water. Find out what beverages you can drink. Hot beverages, bottled water, and bottled soft-drinks are usually safe.
You may also be told to avoid raw vegetables. These may be contaminated with the same organisms that are in the tap water. Washing the vegetables in water will not make such vegetables safe. It is safer to eat only cooked vegetables.
Fruits with thick coverings (bananas, citrus fruits, and melons) are always safer than fruits without coverings (grapes, apples).
Well-cooked meats are safer than rare meats. Consider how long food has stood out at room temperature. Consider also how the food was prepared. You don’t have to be paranoid — ask other Americans who live in the country what they do and use common sense.
Seafood, particularly shellfish, has been a culprit in “downing” our teams. You are generally safe if you are eating in someone’s home, but if you cannot see how the food is prepared in a restaurant or hotel or dormitory, you may want to be extra cautious.
Contact Lenses and Glasses
If you wear soft contact lenses, you will need to provide your own supplies to care for them. We recommend that you wear glasses instead of contacts during your short time overseas. If you choose to wear contacts, bring a sufficient supply of saline and cleaning/storage solution and purchase Enzymatic tablets using saline, not distilled water. Don’t plan on having replacement lenses sent to you in-country, they cannot be guaranteed to arrive on time or intact.
Whatever you decide to do, you should bring your glasses with you as there may be times when you are not able to properly care for your contacts (e.g. traveling on a train). Some have found that because of the amount of pollution in the cities, their eyes were irritated while wearing contacts. It is also advisable to bring along a copy of your glasses prescription, as replacing them in-country is relatively cheap.
Most diarrhea can be controlled by Pepto Bismol, Lomotil (diphenoxylate), Imodium (loperamide), or Kaopectate. Having one of these with you will probably come in handy.
Other Medications to Consider
Common medications in the United States are usually only found in large urban areas overseas. Think through the things you would want to take on a long trip and pack accordingly. Work together as a team to avoid duplicating items. If you bring any prescription medications, be sure to bring it in its original container, as unmarked medication can arouse suspicion.