The Travelers Medicine Cabinet: What Meds Should You Bring on Your Trip?

Dr. Sharon Orrange
Dr. Orrange is an Associate Professor of Clinical Medicine in the Division of Geriatric, Hospitalist and General Internal Medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of USC.
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Whether you are travelling to Peru, Tanzania, Indonesia or Puerto Vallarta, among other exotic locations you will likely visit your doctor or travel clinic to see what you need before your trip.

In addition to the necessary vaccines (which you can find on the CDC Travelers’ Health website here are some things you should think about having with you before you leave.

1. Ciprofloxacin, Levaquin (levofloxacin) or Zithromax (azithromycin). Ask your doc for a short course of any of these for a diarrheal illness, urinary tract infection, or sinusitis/bronchitis that may surprise you on your trip.

2. Ambien (zolpidem) to sleep on long plane flights or for when you arrive and want to regulate your sleep pattern. This requires a prescription. You can try melatonin as an over-the-counter option, it just doesn’t work as well.

3. Benadryl or loratadine (generic Claritin) is good for allergy symptoms, food allergies, inflamed beestings, and hives that may pop up out of nowhere. Buy these over the counter.

4. Zofran (ondansetron) pills or dissolvable tablets (ODT) for nausea. Trust me if you get food poisoning or a viral gastroenteritis you will want this. This also requires a prescription.

5. Immodium for diarrhea. If you are having more than 3 episodes in 24 hours you want to have this and you can get it over the counter.

6. Tylenol or ibuprofen for fever, headache, toothache or whatever may ail you.

7. Bactroban (mupirocin) is an antibiotic ointment you’ll want if you step on coral (yipes) or have any infected cut or sore. Unlike Neosporin this is a prescription, but Bactroban will treat the superbug MRSA (methicillin resistant Staph Aureus) and works better.

8. Hydrocortisone 1% cream (Cortaid). Again, an itchy rash, bite, or bump will be less itchy if you use hydrocortisone cream. This is over the counter.

9. Pepcid, Zantac or Prilosec OTC for heartburn and sour stomach. Pick any one of these; Pepcid and Zantac will help you out quicker, and all are available over the counter.

10. Dramamine if you think you will be on a bumpy car ride or boat. A prescription that is smart to ask your doc about if you are going on a cruise is a Transderm Scop (scopolamine) patch which work brilliantly and won’t make you sleepy.

11. Malaria pills if you need them for the area you are travelling (Malarone is the most common). Check the CDC website.

12. Diamox (acetazolamide) for altitude sickness if you will be above 7000 feet, especially if you plan to ascend rapidly.

What did I miss?

Dr O.

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