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Travel Tips for Good Health

Suzanne Upfield, RN is a heart failure navigator. She works with patients and providers at both Providence St. Peter Hospital and Providence Centralia Hospital.

To Your Health newsletter offered by Providence Health & Services in Southwest, WA.The holiday season is a time of celebration with family and friends. Traveling, festive foods, increased alcohol consumption, late nights...they all add up.

For most the health impact is minimal and may include exhaustion and a couple of unwanted pounds. However, the change in routine for others, such as people with chronic conditions, can have a significant impact on their health.

In fact, it is this time of year that hospitals see a rise in admissions for people with heart disease, kidney disease, diabetes, and lung disease.

Try focusing on these four areas this holiday season to stay healthy and safe.

Routine Medications

Inconvenience, busy schedules and extra expenses can make it tempting to quit taking your daily medications. If you have a chronic condition, missing even one dose of medication can cause a decline in your health.

  • A key strategy is to not wait until the last minute to get your prescriptions refilled.
  • Don't risk checking your medication. When traveling store medications in the labeled bottle from the pharmacy and place the bottles in your carryon or purse.
  • Remember once you get to your destination to store medication out of the reach of children.

Diet Changes

Food is a large part of the holiday celebration. However, holiday favorites, such as ham, stuffing, and dips are high in salt and cause fluid retention. People with heart failure or kidney disease can get into trouble very quickly. Pies, cookies, and snacks can cause blood sugars to increase, which is especially challenging for people with diabetes.

  • The best strategy is maintaining your normal diet.
  • Do not skip meals, in order to save for the holiday feast. Instead be selective and take small portions of your favorite foods.
  • Alcohol can also contribute to heart and blood sugar problems, so limit what you drink or avoid it.
  • The holiday season is a time to be vigilant with daily monitoring, such as blood sugar checks and daily weights.
  • If you do start to have symptoms related to your condition, do not delay in calling your healthcare provider.

Inactivity

Traveling during the holidays can mean long periods of sitting or being inactive which can cause blood clots to develop in the lower extremities.

  • If you are driving take a break every one to two hours and walk around.
  • If you are flying move your feet and legs while sitting. Don’t be shy and take a walk down the aisle occasionally.
  • During layovers do not sit, instead walk.
  • Try not dangle your feet all day. Go ahead and tell the kids to move off the couch so you can put your feet up for awhile.

Sleep

Do not under estimate the power of sleep. People often make exceptions around the holidays and sacrifice sleep not realizing the impact. Under the best conditions holidays can be stressful and sleep will help you keep a positive outlook and maintain good health.

  • Make an effort to keep your sleep routine.
  • When traveling, do not leave behind medical devices, such as CPAP machines, which provide a safe and restful sleep.
  • Watching what you eat, keeping active and limiting alcohol will help keep a normal sleep pattern as well.

Start now to develop strategies for the holidays and make your health a priority. Do not hesitate to talk to your healthcare provider if you have concerns or questions. Place your health first and join the holiday celebration feeling good.

For more information about heart failure navigation services, contact Suzanne Upfield, RN, at (360) 493-7294 .