When booking your holiday, ensure you obtain adequate travel insurance, remembering to declare any pre-existing medical conditions. Before insurers will provide you with cover, they will require information about all medical events which could affect you in the future. The following companies may be able to help you with travel insurance: Travel Insured – Offers travel insurance specifically for pre-existing medical conditions Call: 0845 850 1066 www.travelinsured.co.uk SAGA – Offers travel insurance exclusively for over 50’s Call: 0800 015 0757 www.saga.co.uk/insurance Age UK – Offers travel insurance with no upper age limit and you can cover pre-existing medical conditions Call: 0800 389 4852 http://www.ageuk.org.uk/products/insurance/travel-insurance/
If you are travelling to a country in the European Economic Area (EEA), or in Switzerland, make sure you obtain a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) in addition to your private health insurance. If you have an accident or fall ill abroad, this card will entitle you to free or reduced cost medical treatment in most European member states.Anyone over the age of 16 can apply for an EHIC card. For further information visit: www.nhs.uk/NHSEngland/Healthcareabroad/EHIC
Body scanners are designed to enable airport staff to detect explosives or other harmful items which maybe hidden on a traveller’s body. The scan does not show internal body parts but is likely to highlight the fact that you are wearing a stoma pouch. Security officers have received training to deal with this in an appropriate and sensitive manner, and no physical contact such as a hand search is necessary. It is recommended that you carry a travel certificate with you at all times. You can show this to the security staff to describe your condition, should it be required. It may also be useful to carry a letter from your GP. Travel certificates/cards can be obtained from your stoma care nurse, the Ileostomy Association (IA), Colostomy Association (CA) or Urostomy Association (UA). These are printed in several languages and briefly explain your condition and the equipment you are carrying.
If you are flying to your holiday destination, it is advised to pack half your stoma care equipment in your hand luggage. If you need a pouch change during flight or if your hold luggage is delayed or lost, you will have sufficient pouches to meet your immediate needs. It is a good idea to pre-cut your pouches before you travel. Remember…Scissors and aerosols must be packed in your hold luggage.
If you need to take any prescription medicines on holiday, it is a good idea to find out whether there are any restrictions on taking them in and out of the country you will be visiting. Medicines which are readily available over the counter in the UK may be controlled drugs in other countries. Always carry your medicines in correctly labelled pharmacy issued containers. If you are taking strong pain relieving medicine, it is recommended to obtain a letter from your GP explaining why you need to carry this. Your GP may charge for this service.
One of the great things about travelling to different countries is trying different cuisines. However, a few sensible precautions may help to prevent an upset tummy. In very hot countries avoid food that has been standing for long periods of time, in particular, shellfish. Wash salad and fruit before eating and drink only bottled water. If the local water upsets you then you should also use bottled water to clean around your stoma. Avoid ice cubes and drink only moderate amounts of alcohol. It is advisable to drink a glass of water for every glass of alcohol you consume as excessive amounts of alcohol will cause dehydration.
Dehydration does not only occur with tummy upsets and tummy bugs but also in hot and humid conditions. In these conditions we perspire much more so it is important to replace these lost body fluids by drinking more. Isotonic sports drinks are available at most supermarkets and pharmacies and are excellent in combatting dehydration. Symptoms of dehydration are headache, thirst, dizziness, small amounts of dark urine, feeling light headed or weak, or any combination of these symptoms. If dehydration persists seek medical help immediately.
If you are holidaying in hot or humid conditions, you may wish to take a cool bag with you to protect your pouches. Alternatively, store your pouches in the coolest part of your holiday accommodation.