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Being Prepared For An Emergency On The Road; Staying Healthy While Traveling; Keeping Home Schooled Kids Active

Aired July 8, 2006 - 08:30   ET


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What to pack as you travel this summer, making vacation easier.

Plus, what you need to know about blood clots before you board that plane.

And team home schooler. Find out how learning on the couch doesn't make you a couch potato.


ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning and welcome to HOUSE CALL. I'm Elizabeth Cohen sitting in for Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

Americans are on the move. Whether you've been planning a vacation for months, or taking a spur of the moment trip, it may not be all fun in the sun. Judy Fortin now with a look at what you should remember before packing those bags.


JUDY FORTIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The car is packed, the kids are buckled in, but experts say many Americans are forgetting something important when they hit the road.

DR. RICARDO MARTINEZ, THE SCHUMACHER GROUP: You want to prepare for the worst by having a first aid kit, water, the emergency kit.

FORTIN: Some travelers admit they don't even have a Band-Aid in their car.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Not one. I've got napkins. And that's about it.

SHANON KIGER: We have the things that we use on a day-to-day basis, the wipes, the extra diapers. But as far as things in an emergency situation like that that we should have, we don't. And you know, I will now.

FORTIN: Emergency room physician Ricardo Martinez says you don't have to spend a lot of money on a first aid kit or supplies.

MARTINEZ: Band-Aids, little cleaning swabs, get some medication to keep it clean, some maybe iodine. That's really the most important thing. And everything else you can probably buy with a little more time.

FORTIN: The American College of Emergency Room Physicians says before you leave home, have your car inspected, pack blankets, extra water, flares and two working flashlights. Get plenty of rest before departure.

Whether you're traveling by car or plane, doctors recommend taking an extra pair of glasses and a copy of your prescription. Dr. Martinez says written medical information may be the most important item you pack along for your vacation.

MARTINEZ: A letter from your doctor or even a handwritten note with your information about what your medical history is, what medications you're on, and any sort of diagnosis we need to know about.

FORTIN: As for medications, it's recommended you keep them in the original container for easier identification and put them in your carry on bag.

MARTINEZ: You want to make sure that your medicine goes with you and not with the luggage. So you make sure that your luggage that you carry on the plane has your prescription medication, not what you check into the airline.

FORTIN: Most airline travelers don't have room for a first aid kit. So Dr. Martinez says carry a small amount of Band-Aids and cleansing pads to take care of minor injuries.

For HOUSE CALL, I'm Judy Fortin.


COHEN: Thanks, Judy.

We're going to be talking about all your travel health issues. For example, how do you prevent jet lag? How do you fight motion sickness? And what do you do if you get sick far away from home?

AAA is reporting a 25 percent increase of bookings for Europe and even slightly higher than that for travel to Asia. That's all in addition to the great American classic, the road trip.

Here to help us stay healthy on vacation is Dr. Christine Zurawski, director of the Travel Medicine Practice at Piedmont Hospital here in Atlanta.

Welcome, doctor. Dr. Zurawski, what are some of the most common illnesses that people come to you for after their trip? If they didn't come to you before, what do they get sick with and want to...

DR. CHRISTINE ZURAWSKI, TRAVEL MEDICINE SPECIALIST: Probably the most common things that people come home with is just the simple common cold. But probably the most common thing that people would actually come to my office to see me about is diarrhea.

COHEN: And there's some good treatments for that, right?

ZURAWSKI: Yes, there's a lot of -- some newer antibiotics that have come out recently that can treat diarrhea very effectively. And some of the benefit of planning ahead before you travel is that you can take some of these antibiotics with you.

If you're going to China, or India, Thailand, some places where you might not have access to good local healthcare, it's important to bring those things with you. And if you do get sick, and you're instructed how to use those medications while you're away, you can take care of it and continue to enjoy your vacation.

COHEN: So preparation is key. Now we sent our cameras out to find some travelers with questions. Here's Felicia from Pittsburgh.


FELICIA: When I take a road trip, what kind of first aid necessities should I bring with me?


COHEN: Now doctor, Judy touched on this briefly in her story. But any other thoughts on what you should take with you?

ZURAWSKI: I think it's really important just to take, especially if you're taking a long road trip, if you're driving across the country, going to a national park like the Grand Canyon, take a minute and look in your medicine cabinet and look at the things that you or your family members use frequently.

Maalox, some Neosporin or antibiotic ointment. What if you get a sunburn? Aloe Vera gel, bug stray, and some things if you get poison ivy. Take some hydrocortisone cream. Just look at, you know, a lot of these things people already have in their medicine cabinet. Just take a look at them and just pile it in a bag.

COHEN: So if you use it often in your real life at home, chances are you're going to want to use it while you're traveling.

ZURAWSKI: Absolutely.

COHEN: Well, we have another question from our roving camera again. Chris from North Carolina has this question.


CHRIS: For a long car ride in the summer when it's very hot, what's one thing to do for kids that are in the back of the car to prevent carsickness?


COHEN: Everybody wants an answer to this one, I know. ZURAWSKI: That's a very difficult thing to deal with. Sometimes, you know, especially for kids in the back, if you can keep them occupied. Sometimes reading is difficult in the car for children, but a very popular thing that a lot of people drive with now is a small DVD player.

If you keep the kids occupied with a movie, or a Game Boy, or something that's going to keep them busy, instead of looking around a lot, they're going to be less aware of the motion of the car and more focused on what's happening in the car. And they tend to be sick a little bit less.

COHEN: That's a very good idea. Well, we also have some e-mails lined up, starting with Lee from Virginia who writes this. "I have IBS and I'm wondering how best to manage it while traveling through Europe this summer. The trip is a bus tour with a bunch of teenage musicians. I am a 54-year-old female."

First of all, we want to say good luck with those teenagers, Lee. But doctor, what about a chronic condition like irritable bowel syndrome?

ZURAWSKI: There's a lot of tips and tricks for dealing with something like that. First of all, you know, it's always good just to ask -- you know, to give your doctor a call, your doctor's nurse a call, and let them know you're taking a trip like that. And they can sometimes help you out with some preventive medication.

Irritable bowel syndrome is difficult. Sometimes taking Imodium with you is always good. And making sure, especially with something like that, that you stay very well hydrated all the time. Drink lots of water. And try and watch your diet when you're traveling, especially with a group of kids. There's a tendency to eat a lot of fast food.

And if that's not something that your body is used to, that's going to cause some problems. So just watching the diet and choosing carefully can probably prevent a lot of that stuff.

COHEN: So again, drink lots of water.

ZURAWSKI: Lots of water.

COHEN: And what about if you're in a country you're not familiar with? How do you know if the water is going to make you sick or not?

ZURAWSKI: It's best always to err on the safe side. And always drink bottled water. In a lot of foreign countries where there's a lot of tourists, and there a lot of places are very used to Americans traveling there now, they will even provide bottled water within your hotel room.

It's best to make sure that you see that it's actually sealed when it comes to the table. Don't take -- just because it's in a bottle doesn't mean it's been bottled appropriately.

COHEN: You want to take the top off yourself.

ZURAWSKI: Take it off yourself, absolutely.

COHEN: Absolutely. Great. Well, terrific. Well, we're going to have more hints for germ-free travel. Stay tuned.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: From jet lag, to germs and blood clots, we'll find out just how healthy or friendly those skies really are when HOUSE CALL returns.

First, our medical dictionary. What does DVT stand for? We'll spell it out after the break.




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Before the break we asked, what does DVT stand for? The answer -- deep vein thrombosis or a blood clot found in a deep vein, usually in the lower leg.


COHEN: Millions of Americans will be traveling by plane this summer, heading to Europe, Mexico, and beyond. That means packed planes and concerns about those long haul flights, especially about DVT or deep vein thrombosis.

If you develop DVT, that means you've got a blood clot that could travel to your heart or lungs and could be fatal.

The disorder is caused by sitting for long periods of time with little movement. Talking with us now about travel health is Dr. Christine Zurawski, an infectious disease and travel specialist.

Doctor, let's talk about DVTs for a minute. We have a viewer from Illinois who has an e-mail question for us. Christine writes, "I have a history of DVTs. We are planning a driving trip. What should I do to ensure a safe trip?"

How much of a risk does Christine take when she does, if she's got a history of it, how much of a risk is she taking on these long car rides? And what can she do?

ZURAWSKI: That's a little bit of a difficult question to ask. I mean, if she's had a DVT recently, some people stay on blood thinners to help prevent that. But if it's been for a while, a lot of people recommend taking an aspirin.

The other really important thing to do -- I keep coming back to the same thing again and again, water, water, water, staying well hydrated. If you're driving in the car a long time, if you -- the one good thing about drinking a lot of water, you're going to have to go to the bathroom. If you have to go to the bathroom, you have to stop and walk around. That's really important, even if you're on an airplane is to get up, stop every, you know, couple of hours, move around, move your legs, get that blood flow going so that gravity doesn't just continue to keep it down in your legs. And you should be OK.

COHEN: So you can even do exercises in your seat in an airplane if they make you sit down.

ZURAWSKI: Absolutely.

COHEN: You can try that.

ZURAWSKI: Absolutely.

COHEN: Well, let's go back to our roving camera now. Kelly and our friends are worried about germs.


KELLY: We actually just flew in from Springfield, Missouri. And so we were kind of wondering, you know, there's a lot of germs that circulate on airlines and on the plane and things. And so, how to prevent things like that between, you know, the drinks that get passed around, the recirculating air, and the blankets and the pillows, how to keep germs off those kind of things so that we don't get sick?


COHEN: Doctor, this is a common question. Obviously, you have to breathe on a plane. So you don't have a lot of choice there. But should you take the pillows and blankets? Or are they germy?

ZURAWSKI: You know, the pillows and -- well, depending on the airline, you're not going to get very many of those things anymore. But all of those things are cleaned. And a lot of them are new each time you use them.

Also, a lot of the bacteria that cause respiratory illnesses and things, they're not going to live on inanimate objects too much.

The biggest risk is the person sitting next to you or the people that are sitting around you. And the air circulation is a problem. There's nothing much you can do about it.

There is a lot sort of homeopathic natural remedies that people recommend. A very popular one now is something called Airborne. It's just vitamins, antioxidants, Vitamin C, things to sort of help your immune system stay healthy when you're in a situation where you can't really control the air that you're breathing.

COHEN: Now those little overhead vents that you can reach up and turn, and they blow air on you, do those help or do those hurt? Or does it not matter? ZURAWSKI: It doesn't really matter. It's all the same. And it's just continuously recirculated during your flight. So it doesn't increase your risk at all.

COHEN: All right. Well, we're going back to our roving camera. Adrian has a common problem.


ADRIAN: What's the easiest way to get rid of jet lag other than sleep?


COHEN: Now doctor, if you could find a cure for this, you would be a very rich woman.

ZURAWSKI: A millionaire, absolutely. You know, sleep is the answer for jet lag. I hate to say it again. Water, hydration is the one thing that actually has been shown to improve jet lag a good bit.

If you're taking a long flight, especially overseas at all, sleeping not so much when you get there, but sleeping on the plane is very, very important because it helps your body acclimate and change the time zones a little bit, so that when you wake up, you're feeling a little bit more refreshed.

It's very difficult to get over jet lag. If you get to your destination immediately, take a nap. So drink a lot of water, avoid alcohol, and caffeinated products, which dehydrate you. Sleep on the plane. And once you get there, try and keep going as long as you can, so that you can switch over to the new time that you're on. Your body will have a much easier time of dealing with it.

COHEN: Get into their rhythm as early as possible.

ZURAWSKI: Exactly.

COHEN: Well, we're talking with Dr. Christine Zurawski about avoiding the pitfalls of traveling. More HOUSE CALL after the break.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Home schoolers hit the course.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's a lot of fun just getting out there and hitting it as hard as you can.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Find out how these kids are finding ways to team up.

And later, discover if sleeping pills are the ticket to rest when you travel?

But first, this week's medical headlines in "The Pulse."



CHRISTY FEIG, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Obesity may increase the odds of having depression and anxiety. A study in the Archives of General Psychiatry found a 25 percent increase in the odds of having a mood or anxiety disorder if someone is obese. Researchers say they don't know which comes first, obesity or the mood disorder.

Your painkillers may throw off some medical tests. Research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association finds Acetaminophen the main ingredient in Tylenol, Excedrin, and some other over-the-counter remedies raises liver enzymes, one sign of possible liver damage.

Researchers say livers may temporarily show the affects Acetaminophen use after the drug is discontinued, making it especially important for patients to tell their doctors if they've been taking drugs containing Acetaminophen.

Christy Feig, CNN.



COHEN: Welcome back to HOUSE CALL. It's time to look at how we're doing in our quest for a fit nation. This week, Dr. Sanjay Gupta looks at an often overlooked segment of students. They don't have PE class or any regularly scheduled class for that matter. We're talking about home schoolers.


SANDRA BREADEN, MOTHER: What do you all want for lunch? Tuna?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Peanut butter and jelly.

SANJAY GUPTA, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): You'd never know it by looking at them, but 14-year-old twins Courtney and Chelsea have never gone to a gym class.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How long have you been on that page?

GUPTA: That's because they're home schooled. But just because they do their school work on the living room couch doesn't mean they get to be couch potatoes.

S. BREADEN: OK, you got everything you need?

GUPTA: Their mom makes sure of that.

S. BREADEN: When they were younger, you could say go outside and play. But when they get to be preteens and teens, that doesn't work anymore. You almost have to have a program to have them involved in, especially with peers. GUPTA: While most states have academic standards for home schooled children, most do not have fitness requirements.

But there is a growing interest in helping kids to stay fit. There are many fitness options for home schoolers. Kids exercise class at the local gym. Home school PE curriculums online. And in Sandra's case, there's Crown Athletics.

She and fellow home school parents started Crown Athletics in Cobb County, Georgia to give home schooled students a chance to play organized sports. Cheerleading is Courtney's passion.

COURTNEY BREADEN: I never thought I would cheer lead because I'm home schooled, you know. But I really like it a lot. And it's just fun to get out there and cheer for your team.

COHEN: And if practice isn't enough exercise, she also has to sign this honesty policy, showing her coaches she's working out at home.

COURTNEY BREADEN: If you don't do it, there's consequences like you have to run the track.

GUPTA: Chelsea plays volleyball.

CHELSEA BREADEN: It's a lot of fun just getting out there and hitting it as hard as you can.

GUPTA: Joy Page, who teaches a supplemental personal fitness program for home school students, says fitness programs are essentially for home school kids.

JOY PAIGE, HOMESCHOOL TEACHER: I try to keep them understanding that it's all linked together, that it's a big picture of taking care of yourself so that you enjoy life more.

GUPTA: Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN, reporting.


COHEN: Thanks, Sanjay.

And some of those teams are running year round. We're taking a quick break, then talking more about travel necessities. Stay tuned.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: From vaccination to sleeping pills, what you really need if you're heading overseas this summer, coming up on HOUSE CALL.


COHEN: For the most up to date information about travel health, go to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Web site. That's

And if you're looking for a travel clinic, click on over to the International Society for Travel Medicine link at

Now at most travel clinics, you can get any vaccinations you might need, as well as medications like malaria pills that may be recommended for your destination.

Talking with us this morning about travel medicine is Dr. Christine Zurawski, director of the Travel Medicine Practice at the Piedmont Hospital here in Atlanta.

Now doctor, the World Cup is wrapping up this weekend. And the CDC has issued some warnings. They're a little concerned about a measles outbreak in Germany. All the Americans that went over there will, of course, be coming back here. What advice would you have?

ZURAWSKI: Well, up in the -- specifically, the northern part of Germany where some of the earlier games were played, there's been over 1000 cases of measles there in the recent months.

And what the CDC has recommended is that if you have not had -- been vaccinated for measles as an adult, or during your college years, that you just be aware of how you're feeling when you come back.

Measles can -- the symptoms of measles can start anywhere between a couple days up to a week after you would return. The first thing you might notice is fever, body aches, kind of a flu-like illness.

But specifically, you're looking for a rash. It usually starts on the face. And then it could spread to your trunks and your arms. So if you have a fever and a rash like that, it's recommended that you contact your primary care doctor and just tell them that I've recently been to Germany. And they can help you from there.

COHEN: OK, good advice for World Cup fans traveling home.

Let's go to our inbox now with a question from Chris in Massachusetts. "For travel over several time zones, will a sleeping pill at the start and end of the trip help people adjust faster?"

What do you think?

ZURAWSKI: Absolutely. Just as we were talking about earlier, things to help with jet lag, sleeping on the plane also helps you adjust to your time zones. And it is very common for us to prescribe to our patients that do come to the travel clinic to take something like Ambien, even over the counter medications like melatonin to help ensure that you do fall asleep on the plane so that you can wake up and be ready to go on your vacation.

COHEN: Now let's say you don't take sleeping pills in your normal life at home. Would it be OK to start taking them just for the sake of a trip?

ZURAWSKI: Absolutely. Sleeping pills -- doesn't take anything to get them to work. Doesn't need to build up in your system. You can take one sleeping pill, fall asleep, you know, within 30 minutes on the plane and wake up at your destination. COHEN: All right then. Well, we're out of time. Thank you, Dr. Christine Zurawski, for joining us today.

ZURAWSKI: You're welcome.

COHEN: And make sure to tune in next weekend when we'll be talking about skin cancer. That's next weekend at 8:30 a.m. Eastern.

Remember, this is the place for the answers to your medical questions. Thanks for watching. I'm Elizabeth Cohen. Stay tuned now for more news on CNN.


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