Sunglasses, check! SPF, check! Flip flops, check! Medicine kit… Not sure what to pack in your medicine kit for your summer holidays? Fear not, your tick list is here! At London Doctors Clinic, we’re seeing lots of patients preparing to pack their bags for their summer holiday adventures, many of whom are asking our private doctors: “which medicines do I need to take?”
Pharmacies abroad may not be as reliable as at home, and if you’re travelling to a country where you’re not familiar with the language, you might really struggle to communicate your problem. Have you ever had to mime having a tummy bug to a Spanish pharmacist?! Well, if you pack everything on our travel kit list, you shouldn’t have to…
Paracetamol is a good painkiller to take for headaches (and any other aches!) and fever, because it is relatively safe, with few side effects. Ibuprofen, which can be bought over-the-counter and comes in gel and tablet form, is good for inflammation and pain, but can only be used with or after food. Aspirin (300mg) is also good for pain; it can be gargled when dissolved in water to treat a sore throat. However, it must not be given to children under the age of 16.
Learn more about all three painkillers, in our article “Ask The Pharmacist: Which Painkiller Would You Recommend?“.
2. Diarrhoea Relief
Oral Rehydration Salts (ORS) are extremely important to carry, in case you suffer from diarrhoea, vomiting or fever. When we suffer from any of these conditions, our bodies lose water and essential minerals, which can lead to dehydration. ORS are to be taken after each bout of diarrhoea or vomiting to avoid this! It is important to note that whilst ORS are very useful for dehydration, they do not actually treat the underlying cause of diarrhoea, vomiting or fever.
Loperamide is used to stop diarrhoea, which can come about for a number of reasons, including food poisoning or a stomach virus. Loperamide can quickly control the unpleasant symptoms of diarrhoea (particularly useful if you are on the go), although, again, it does not treat the underlying cause.
3. Curing Constipation
Laxatives come in a variety of forms and work in many different ways. Before taking any medicine, it is important to first determine what is causing your constipation. Drinking plenty of water, eating as much fruit and vegetables as possible and keeping active are very good ways to prevent constipation – could this be another reason to do some sightseeing?!
4. Indigestion Relief
Antacids can be used in the case of heartburn, indigestion and stomach ache, which might be caused by overindulgence – something not uncommon when you’re on holiday! These come in the form of liquid, chewable tablets or tablets that dissolve in water.
5. Travel Flu
Decongestants can help with a blocked head or nose, which can be symptoms of a cold, flu, sinusitis or hay fever.
Medicines that just have a decongestant come in the form of tablets (pseudoephedrine) and nasal spray (xylometazoline). Decongestants are also available in combination with other medicines such as paracetamol, ibuprofen and antihistamine. You can learn more about decongestants by checking out our colds and flu article!
6. Managing Allergies
Antihistamines are useful for controlling minor allergic reactions to food, for allergies such as hay fever and for insect bites.
Antihistamines such as loratidine and cetirizine are non-drowsy antihistamines that can be bought over-the-counter. Chlorphenamine is a drowsy antihistamine, so is good if your allergies are disturbing your sleep. These come in a liquid form; however, to make your packing lighter, I would recommend taking tablets, if possible. Diphenhydramine cream is an antihistamine cream which is very useful if you only need a topical treatment for bites and rashes.
Antihistamines can be useful for controlling allergies such as hay fever
So there you have it, our top 6 essential medicines for any travel holiday!
Of course, this may need to be tailored to your destination: mosquito repellent is an absolute must for any travel hot-spot crawling with such critters, for example. Please speak to one of our private doctors (or pharmacist!) before using any of these medicines, especially if you’re already taking any regular medications or have any known medical conditions – to ensure there are no contraindications to you taking these travel medicines.
For any other pre-travel concerns, you can find our fully experienced private GPs at any of our 12 London clinic locations. Our GP surgeries are located right by key transport hubs, so we should never be too far away when you need to find a GP. Please note, however, that we don’t provide any vaccinations at LDC – instead we’d recommend visiting our sister clinic, London Travel Clinic for these.
By Dipali Khurana