The good news is that as a teen, your immune system is as strong as an adult’s, but lack of sleep and a poor diet can make it easier for you to become sick.
The first thing you should do if you’re heading overseas is to find out what kinds of vaccinations you’ll need in advance because different countries have different requirements. In the United States, contact your doctor or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for a list of necessary vaccinations. You’ll want to allow plenty of time for this step in case you need to get vaccines that require more than one dose.
Common travel troubles
Three of the most common health problems that you may experience when traveling are jet lag, altitude sickness, and diarrhea. When you fly across time zones, the differing amounts of light can change your internal body clock, resulting in a condition known as jet lag. Jet lag may cause some symptoms that are bummers on a fun trip, including upset stomach, insomnia, and tiredness.
There are some things you can do to combat jet lag; for example, if you’re traveling from west to east, you should stay out of the sun until the day after your arrival. If you’re flying from east to west, go for a brisk walk as soon as possible after you arrive.
Altitude sickness is caused by dry air, a decrease in oxygen, and low barometric pressure when you travel to a higher altitude than you’re used to. As a result, you may have problems, such as headaches, dehydration, and shortness of breath. Some people are affected at 5,000 feet (1,524 meters), but others aren’t affected until they reach altitudes of 10,000 feet (3,048 meters) or more. Find out what altitude you’re traveling to before you go to see if altitude sickness could be a problem.
The best prevention for altitude sickness is to gradually increase your altitude every day to get used to it. If that isn’t possible, a drug known as acetazolamide can help relieve and even prevent symptoms of altitude sickness. If you think that you might get altitude sickness, talk with your doctor before you leave home.
The topic of diarrhea may seem gross, but it can be a serious problem. Traveler’s diarrhea, known as turista, often occurs when a foreign type of bacteria enters your digestive tract, usually when you eat contaminated food or water. The best way to prevent turista is to be very careful of the food you eat and the water you drink on the road.