Traveling with Lymphedema
Traveling can be a happy experience; however, it puts additional strain on all of your body including the lymphatic system.
The following are precautions you can take to help ensure that Lymphedema does not side-track your trip.
Plan to Take It Easy
When planning your trip review the Lymphedema prevention guidelines and organize your travels so you can have fun while observing the guidelines. It can be done! Just remember a swollen limb is not the souvenir you want to bring home!
– Individuals with lymphedema should wear some form of compression therapy while flying.
– Individuals at risk for developing lymphedema should understand that risk factors associated with air travel and should make a decision to wear compression garments based on their individual risk factors.
– It is recommended to obtain a note from your physician regarding your lumphedema, in case of any security related questiohns about your bandages or compression garments.
A lymphedema related infection usually occurs unexpectedly and at the most inconvenient time. When this happens, prompt treatment is essential and the following precautions can ease your mind.
– Before you travel, see you physician and get a prescription for antibiotics to carry with you “just in case”,
– Review with your physician the signs and symptoms you should watch for as indications that the antibiotic is required. Also be certain that you know how this medication should be taken.
– Have the prescription filled and take it with you in the labeled pharmacy container.
– Should an infection occur while you are traveling start taking the antibiotics and as soon as possible check with a knowledgeable physician for further instructions.
Wear Your Compression Garment
Whether traveling by plane or car, it is important that you wear your compression garment. Also take a spare compression garment so you have one to wear while the other is drying after you have washed it. Keeping these garments clean and dry is essential to maintaining skin health.
Take Your Water Bottle
Staying well hydrated is important at all times and it can be more challenging while traveling,. The air on planes is very dry. Drinking alcohol, coffee and caffeinated soft drinks do not meet your need for water. So take your water bottle along and keep sipping. The same guidelines hold true when traveling by car or train.
The fabric of a compression garment will not protect you from a sunburn. Get a good quality sunscreen (high SPF), preferably one with a moisturizer, and use it generously on the affected limb.
To most people an insect bite is just an itchy nuisance. For those with lumphedema or at a risk for lymphedema, it can be a much larger danger. Take insect repellent along and use it!
Lotion and Powder
If you are going in to a dry climate you’ll need to take extra precautions to keep the skin of affected limb well moisturized. If you are going into a hot and humid climate, you’ll want to use powder to help control perspiration.
If you are paying in advance for a tour, trip insurance is worth considering; however, before signing up read the fine print. You need to find the part about exclusions due to pre-existing conditions. Lymphedema is a pre-existing condition because you had it before you signed up for the insurance. Under these conditions, should you have to cancel because of your lymphedema, your insurance probably will not pay.
Having lymphedema is not fun; however, it should not stop you from enjoying your favorite travel activities. In fact, having fun should be part of your lymphedema management program. So, plan ahead, take the necessary precautions, then relax and have a good time!