Sunday, October 11, 2009

Business Traveller Tip: The best drugs to take with you

If you travel a lot, then you have been sick on a trip. If so, you know the challenge of finding fast, quick and (importantly) understandable health care. Getting a good doctor is usually the easy part as either your hotel or insurance company can find you a local language doctor or health care professional. The harder part is finding the right over the counter meds on the road because either: the pharmacist does not speak your language; the drug you are looking for has a different name or brand; or you simply do not have time in your schedule for an unanticipated apothecary adventure. Thus we have have business traveller tip number 4 – which (legal) drugs to pack with you to handle most minor health issues. This list is long enough to provide you with the aliment alleviating you need while being short enough (and free of liquids) so that you can fit all of it in a separate wetpack that does not require removal for security screening.
  • For throat pain: a tray or four pack of medicated throat lozenges. I prefer Difflam but Strepsils will do. Un-medicated ones like Anticol or Butter Menthol are just candy in (a poor) disguise;
  • For head pain: A tray of paracetamol or aspirin. I prefer paracetamol for flying;
  • For really bad head pain: I have suffered back pain on a long haul flight and can tell you that flying plus back pain is as bad as travelling gets. I would not have made it through the flight if it it had not been for the small amount of prescription pain medication that I carry with me just in case. I recommend carrying a few tabs. I am not saying that you should have any hillbilly heroine or hollywood starlet party drug with you but if you can have a couple of tablets of Di-Gesic, Panadeine Forte or another combination of codeine and paracetamol then you have a fool-proof “back-up” plan for acute pain. If you are unable to get a prescription then a top of the range over the counter med like Nurofen Plus will do;
  • For the flu: A cold and flu med with pseudo-ephedrine will fight sniffles, snuffles and snoozles that come with a cold. There is something about pseudo-ephedrine that can make a jet-lagged, flue ridden, early morning meeting manageable;
  • For sleeping: Work colleagues and friends swear by Ambien, Stilnox and other sleeping pills. I manage to get by with lower grade (non-prescription) drowsy pills like Unisom or Restavit. I don’t know the chemical terms or inputs but these are the drowsy parts of antihistamine or flu drugs without the anti-sneezing or anti-flu parts. In other words they won't knock you out like Ambien but will make you very very sleepy. I also carry melatonin for fighting jetlag and adding to the all over tired feeling;
  • For the rest of you: band aids (or insert brand name for strips of fix all gauze and medical padding) are a must; and
  • For the queasy among you: If you suffer from motion sickness, Madame BOOT swears by Travacalm as the means of eliminating the awful green colour that comes over her at the mere mention of the word plane, train, boat or automobile. The ginger stuff like Travel Calm is a waste of money.
In the old days of liquids, gels and aerosols I also used to pack nasal spray and eye drops. This is still possible to do but if you do, I recommend keeping them separate from the other meds so as to maintain the “no need to screen” status of your meds wetpack. I have learnt to live without them.

Please put more recommendations in the comments.

PS – it goes without saying that I am not a doctor, this is not medical advice and you are smart enough to base decisions on what you stick, jab, ingest, eat, spray and more in to your body on more than a random blogger recommendation. In other words go sue somebody else if the above are no good for you.

thanks to Sherlock77 for the photo on Flickr


Anonymous said...

Don't forget imodium - I always take this if I'm going anywhere in Asia.

Anonymous said...

Anyone travelling to The Gulf, Africa, countries straddling the Tropic of Cancer, destinations during summer or 'The Wet Season' would do well to pack electrolyte replacements and good old Berocca fizzy tablets. Dreadful condition to have your essenntial fluids all hurle out of you and not have isotonic replacements at arm's length.

Warm regards,
Alice Hartley from Dubai x

Peggy said...

Oscillococcinum (by Boiron)a homepathic flu remedy saved me while traveling earlier this year.

kcknacks said...

Hi Tim - great list and good advice. In addition to the suggestion of Immodium, I'd also recommend Buscopan for the inevitable stomach cramps that come from a week in India...some of us who've been there a few times may have developed a bit of armour against full on gastro but I can't seem to escape the stomach cramps! Buscopan helps a lot for that, so bring both Immodium and Busco if you're going sub-continent!

Andrey said...

Hello. You have interesting blog.=)

Andy S said...

Word of advice, melatonin as homeopathic mix is useless, there's so little of the drug in it. In the US, proper doses of melatonin are available over-the-counter at drugstores, not available almost everywhere else.

It's a "reset" drug for your body-clock, not a sleeping pill, so take it half-an-hour or so before you want to have a sleep according the your destination time-zone (I take it as soon as I get to the hotel if it's a late-evening check-in)