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Category Archives: Travel

With the summer finally in full swing, we can expect to be spending a lot more time outside enjoying the warm weather. Many of us may not think about it, but with the combination of warmer temperatures and increased activity, our bodies are losing more water than usual. If we do not replace the fluids that are lost, we are putting ourselves at risk of dehydration. Everyone has experienced minor dehydration. The common feeling of being thirsty is the body’s way of letting us know that it is becoming dehydrated and needs the lost fluids to be replaced. This signal should not be ignored, so when you feel thirsty, it’s time to get a drink of water. The problem arises when the person does not have close access to water or if they become dehydrated very quickly from too much heat exposure or exercise. At this point the symptoms of dehydration are more serious and may include weakness, dizziness, fainting, decreased urination, or deeply yellow-coloured urine. A person with any of these symptoms may require medical attention.

Fortunately, there are some very simple steps that you can take to prevent dehydration. Always bring extra water with you – especially for outdoor events or if working outside. Wear light-coloured and loose-fitting clothing as it will keep you cooler on hot, sunny days. Try to avoid exercise and exposure during high heat index days or at least limit time spent in the heat by finding a shaded area to cool down. Limit alcohol consumption, because alcohol increases water loss leading to dehydration. Many people may reach for an alcoholic beverage when they feel thirsty, but this is not a good choice as it will not replace the fluids that your body needs and it may impair your ability to sense the warning signs of dehydration.

It is important for everyone to keep hydrated, but it is especially important to ensure that children and elderly people are getting enough fluids. It may be difficult to get children to drink lots of water throughout the day, so providing them with snacks of fruits and vegetables that have high water content will help to replace those lost fluids. Some of the most hydrating foods include cucumber, iceberg lettuce, tomatoes, watermelon, strawberries, and cantaloupe. Older people may have difficulty getting around, they may be disabled or have trouble swallowing which can increase the risk of becoming dehydrated. Ensuring that they stay hydrated is extremely important as they may not sense the warning signs or simply may not communicate it with anyone.

Warmer weather and sunny days are ideal for outdoor events and activities, but please keep in mind our tips for staying cool and hydrated this summer season!

As temperatures begin to finally rise across southern Ontario after several weeks of gloomy weather, many Niagara residents are eager to bring out their summer wardrobe.

However, it doesn’t take long before we quickly remember that along with the summer heat comes the return of mosquitoes, spiders, and ticks. In Ontario, most residents are well informed about the illnesses mosquitoes can spread and ways of protecting yourself. But how informed are we about ticks?

There are many different species of ticks; however, the one that is of concern is the blacklegged tick, also known as the deer tick. This sesame seed sized tick can be the host to the bacteria that can cause Lyme disease, which, if untreated, can result in arthritis, heart problems, and various nervous system problems. The American brown dog tick is approximately half a centimeter and has not been shown to carry Lyme disease.

The Niagara region has a high concentration of ticks, especially in the areas surrounding Lake Erie. The Niagara Health Department recommends wearing pants and long sleeved shirts when walking in wooded areas to minimize the chances of a tick bite.

If you notice a tick has attached to your skin, it should be removed immediately by grabbing the head with a pair of tweezers and pulling straight up. Do not try to burn the tick off of the skin using a match or lighter. The area should be then be washed with soap and water. If you are unable to remove the entire tick, you should give your doctor a call and they can remove it for you.  The tick can be brought to the health department for analysis to see if it was infected with the bacteria that causes Lyme disease.

Ticks often pick up the bacteria that cause Lyme disease while feeding on infected rodents. However, it should be noted that most ticks are not carriers.

The majority of people who are bitten by ticks do not develop Lyme disease, however if you notice a red bullseye rash on the skin, develop a fever, headache or muscle and joint pains, you should seek medical attention. The symptoms typically develop within 1 to 2 weeks of a bite. Lyme disease can often be cured with antibiotics if treatment is started early.

For more information about Lyme disease or information about ticks and where to drop them off, you can call 1-888-505-6074.

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If you are planning a vacation for Christmas or March break it is time to start thinking about vaccinations and travel medicine that you may need.

It is very important for travelers to get their hepatitis vaccinations.  Hepatitis A is spread through contaminated food and water.  The vaccine is best given as two doses 6 months apart.  Hepatitis B is spread through sexual contact, piercings, contaminated medical equipment etc.  It can be a problem for patients if you need medical attention while away.  The usual 3-dose schedule for the hep B vaccine is at 0, 1, and 6 months.  There is a combined vaccine for both hep A and B.  There are other dosing schedules available if you are running out of time, but you should consult the doctor or pharmacist about what dosing schedule is best for you.  You should also have your children vaccinated if they are travelling with you.

There are no vaccines for hepatitis C, D, and E, but they are less common in travelers.  Hep C and D are spread through blood, and hep E is spread through the oral-fecal route.  It is best to avoid high-risk activities such as piercings, acupuncture and tattooing, as well as to be careful about food and water precautions and hand washing to avoid these forms of hepatitis.

Traveler’s diarrhea plagues many individuals.  It is caused by eating or drinking food or water contaminated with germs.  If you have three or more episodes of diarrhea in one day, you probably have traveler’s diarrhea.  Your doctor can prescribe an antibiotic for you to take with you if you run in to trouble.  You want to get enough antibiotics to last for three days.  If you don’t develop fever or blood in your stool you can take Imodium with your antibiotic.  If you are travelling with children and they develop traveler’s diarrhea you need to take special care to help them avoid dehydration.

There is also an oral travelers’ Diarrhea vaccination called Dukoral.  Presently the vaccine is being recommended to high-risk patients.    This would include patients who are immunosuppressed, patient’s with chronic illness, and those who have had many bouts of traveler’s diarrhea.

For certain destinations Malaria prophylaxis is also being recommended.  Recently travelers to the Domincan Republic have been advised to take antimalarial medication.  Patients travelling to high risk areas can prevent Malaria infection by avoiding mosquito bites and taking certain medications.  Some areas are resistant to medications that are available.  Travelers should learn what the best medication is for the area they will be travelling to.  It is best to go to a travel clinic to see what medications they recommend for your destination.  Some of the medications need to be started the week before departure so it is best not to leave getting these medications until the last minute.

In order to prepare yourself and your family for an upcoming vacation do some research in to what vaccines and precautions need to be taken for your destination.  Give yourself plenty of time to get in to the doctor and get your prescriptions.  Some of the vaccines need to be started at least six months before you leave.  If you plan ahead everyone can have a safe and healthy vacation.