“I pretty much insist that my patients take extra medications with them when they travel,” says Dr. Lockshin. In some areas, it may be hard to find a pharmacy to get a prescription refilled, he says. Patients should not pack prescriptions in checked baggage that could be lost by airlines or stolen.
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Prior to travel, a rheumatologist’s recommendations may depend on the patient’s particular situation or diagnosis, says Dr. Lockshin. It’s helpful to talk about all the risks and what steps to take to avoid illness or discomfort while abroad.
“I tell my lupus patients, for example, about particular cautions for sun exposure. Patients with joint replacements may not be able to sit on a plane for a long time,” he says. Joint replacements may put patients at higher risk for deep vein thrombosis during lengthy flights, so these patients may need prophylaxis. “Also, injectable medications may be hard to get through security in some countries, and there are some medications that need to be kept on ice. You should be having a conversation with your patients so they know what to do when they travel.”
Susan Bernstein is a freelance medical journalist based in Atlanta.
For More Information…
- Doran MF, et al. Frequency of infection in patients with rheumatoid arthritis compared with controls: A population-based study. Arthritis Rheum. 2002;46:2287–2293.