101 Things to do When You Survive Update: Greig’s Great American Adventure

If you’re new to our blog, we started sponsoring Greig in 2013 for his incredible ‘anti-bucket list’ 101 Things to do When You Survive . Since then, he’s travelled around Costa Rica, Ecuador,Bolivia, the Galapagos, Argentina and most of the rest of South America. Read more

Success for non-Hodgkin lymphoma drug

Scientists in Houston, America have developed a new chemotherapy drug to fight non-Hodgkin lymphoma and chronic lymphocytic leukaemia.

The drug, which was being investigated for its potency against the two different types of cancer has been found to be effective in about one-third of the 58 patients who participated in the study. Read more

Health Association issues travel guidelines for diabetes patients

The American Association of Diabetes Educators has issued a set of travel safety guidelines aimed at patients with diabetes who are faced with the challenge of managing their glucose levels whilst travelling.

Being prepared and having a plan can empower patients, ensure safety and create a reliable framework for glucose management during summer holidays or travels abroad. Read more

Air travel health tips

Most of us have been on a flight at some point, whether it was for business or for a holiday, but on long distance flights, the risk of suffering from things such as deep vein thrombosis or higher blood pressure increases. For some of us with medical conditions, or who are older, DVT can prove to be dangerous or have a significant impact on health.  If you think you have a higher risk of DVT occurring whilst in flight, consult your GP before you go on your holiday.

Flying and Deep Vein Thrombosis

DVT is caused by long periods of inactivity and with limited space to move around on modern aircraft, it means that the chances of developing small clots in your legs and feet are more likely. The body’s own versions of clot busters kick in to stop these clots forming but in people with certain medical conditions or risk factors, the clots can get big enough to block a vein. Cancer, heart disease, infection, pregnancy, history of stroke, recent injury or surgery as well as obesity can all raise the risk of developing deep vein thrombosis whilst, or after, being in the air.

DVT doesn’t have any immediate signs, meaning that most patients don’t realise they’ve developed it until after they’ve got off the plane. Symptoms of DVT include:

  • pain, swelling or tenderness in your leg or calf
  • a heavy ache in the affected area
  • warm skin in the area of the clot
  • redness of your skin, particularly at the back of your leg, below your knee.

If not treated, the DVT can develop into a pulmonary embolism (a blood clot which has come away from its original site and become lodged in one of your lungs) which is a much more serious condition and would require urgent investigation and emergency treatment.

Preventing DVT during travel

There are many ways that people use to prevent blood clots from forming during their long-haul flight. Doctors tend to prescribe high-risk patients blood-thinning drugs to lessen the risk of clotting, or compression/flight socks which apply gentle pressure to the ankle to help improve blood flow, reducing the risk of deep vein thrombosis and leg swelling.

As blood oxygen saturation levels drop between 5-10% when in flight, people with lung conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or cardiovascular disease, you may need supplemental oxygen to help, even if you don’t normally use it. Consult your doctor before you depart on your flight, as if you are in need of oxygen, airlines require advanced notice.

If you are planning a long flight:

  • Make sure you wear loose comfortable clothes that don’t restrict you or your blood flow
  • Store your luggage overhead so you have room to stretch out your legs as far as possible
  • Walk around whenever you can
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Make sure you don’t consume any alcohol or take sleeping pills as they can promote inactivity, increasing the risk of DVT

Exercises you can do to help prevent clots forming include raising your heels, keeping your toes on the floor and then bring them down. Repeat this action ten times every thirty minutes, or more often if you’d like.

Staying healthy on your holiday

Holidays should all be about rest and relaxation in an exotic or favourite destination and making memories with new experiences. Unfortunately the dramatic turnaround in pace and change in lifestyle mean that bodies can be put under strain. With a little planning and management, you can make sure that you return home feeling just as good as when you arrived in your dream destination. Below, we’ve listed a few stay-well strategies to do throughout your holiday.

Your immune system

New country, new food, new germs. This all means that you have to be extremely careful when trying new foods and going to new places because your immune system is out of its comfort zone and susceptible to bacteria or viruses. Indulging and eating out a lot of the time means you don’t have total control about how your food is cleaned, handled or kept, which can lead to various bacteria thriving and putting you at risk of falling ill. Prevent a stomach upset or food poisoning by keeping your immune system healthy with probiotic supplements – supplements that keep your digestive tract healthy- for five days before you leave for your trip. To add further power to your immunity, make sure you get a full 8 hours sleep the night before you leave – the stress of travelling can lower your immunity to things like cold and flu germs which effect every one in five plane passengers within a week of their flight.

Eating out

Avoid foods like cold meats and fish, anything with egg in it which has been open for a while, like mayonnaise – these are safer in single closed sachets, and avoid buffet foods. Cheese and other dairy products are also better to avoid if possible, especially if you haven’t bought the item fresh yourself, as it’s hard to tell if the product has been pasteurised. If you’re eating out, order your meats ‘well done’ or ‘medium well’ as this ensures the meat has been thoroughly cooked, but only eat them if they are still hot when served to you, as this means all bacteria will have been killed off, instead of leaving the meat to cool and giving the bacteria a chance to spread.


Those at the biggest risk for foodborne illness are the pregnant, the elderly and those with weakened immune systems, but travelling can wear down even the healthiest travellers. It’s easy to neglect proper nutrition, especially when surrounded by food which you want to try or eat, and eating at irregular times can compromise the immune system and lead to illness. When you’re away, try and maintain a balanced diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables, and stay hydrated by drinking lots of bottled water. However, make sure you do indulge yourself – you are on holiday, after all.


Your stomach might not be up to the challenge of taking on some of the foods you encounter whilst you’re on holiday but there’s something more dangerous and more likely to give you food poisoning than holiday indulgences. Water, especially ice, are the main causes of dietary and digestive problems whilst people are abroad. We take our clean, filtered, and readily available water here for granted and so we’re not accustomed to the water available in other countries. To stay safe, avoid ice and tap water, and boil any water you want to drink or use first. You don’t always have to drink the contaminated water to be exposed to a potentially holiday-ruining bacteria. Think about the water you brush your teeth with or watch your contact lenses or dentures in, too.

You can check whether your destination has had any outbreaks of salmonella, e.coli or any other foodborne illnesses by checking the World Health Organisation website.

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