Tackle medical emergencies abroad with these key medications

Medical emergencies abroadCC: Ibrahim Rifath

Foreign travel is a blessing, but when medical emergencies arise it can feel like a curse. Although it’s difficult to know when these events will happen, you can make them less severe with the right preparation. Without further adieu, it’s time to explore essential medications that can tackle medical emergencies abroad.

Rehydration sachets and loperamide

Even when the restaurant you’re dining in looks clean, you can’t be sure you won’t walk away with diarrhea. Diarrhea accounts for 8.6% of deaths among children under the age of 5, demonstrating that it’s still a severe problem in the developing world.

If you experience a bout of diarrhea, the best way to handle it is to maintain your hydration and let it pass through. Oral rehydration sachets prove useful for other medical emergencies abroad, too, such as vomiting. Using medications such as loperamide will slow your diarrhea down, but it will also prolong your pain. Try to use it in specific circumstances, such as when you need to get onto public transport.

Malaria prophylaxis for preventing medical emergencies

If you’re traveling somewhere extra-exotic, check out the CDC’s malaria map. If you find that the area you’re visiting is malaria endemic, find the most appropriate malaria prophylaxis for that region and take it.

As one of the biggest medical emergencies abroad you can face, malaria has devastating consequences. Depending on the type you contract, the effects can last for months after. As such, you should choose your medication carefully. Some regions may offer multiple options, such as Doxycycline, Lariam, and Malarone. Although Malarone is the priciest, it also produces the fewest side-effects. Doxycycline can make your skin more sensitive to the sun and Lariam may induce severe nightmares. As such, you may find you’re more likely to adhere to Malarone and keep malaria at bay.

Plan-B, just in case

Contraceptive accidents can happen anywhere and it isn’t always possible to grab Plan-B from your local pharmacy while you’re abroad. Access varies wildly between countries, with some adding strict restrictions to the drug.

With that in mind, always tread carefully when taking Plan-B on your adventures with you. Certain countries may prohibit its use altogether, as it’s seen as an abortifacient by especially conservative nations. Similarly, some countries may frown upon the use of oral contraceptives, so you may want to change to a long-acting method such as Depo Provera to ensure coverage instead.

Choose your pain relief wisely

Some of the trickier medical emergencies abroad involve moderate to severe pain. From accidents through to illnesses that induce muscular aches, you’ll feel grateful if you have painkillers on your side.

Although it’s okay to travel to most countries with NSAIDs such as Ibuprofen and Naproxen, some countries prohibit the use of opioid analgesics without a doctor’s note. This is especially the case in regions that follow the Moslem faith, as opiates are seen as mind-altering medications. While a doctor’s note may keep you safe when you’re passing through customs, traveling with an old pack of Codeine of Tramadol could land you in hot water.

Finally, when preparing for medical emergencies abroad always write down the nearest source of consular assistance in your location. If you have difficulty accessing treatment, knowing how to contact your nearest embassy proves invaluable.

About the Author

Laura McKeever
Laura has been a freelance medical writer for eight years. With a BSc in Medical Sciences and an MSc in Physician Assistant Studies, she complements her passion for medical news with real-life experiences. Laura’s most significant experience included writing for international pharmaceutical brands, including GSK.