Traveller’s health – 3-part series: Part 3 – Travellers with special needs*


Pregnant travelers:


Why should pregnant women be more concerned about travel? The likelihood of a problem needing medical attention arising is greater during pregnancy. On statistical grounds alone, women should hesitate to travel to any area where medical services may be doubtful. But above all this, if a pregnant woman is compelled to travel, it is advised that she undergoes her routine medical examinations and tests periodically. Travel can induce premature labour in some cases. If labour starts after a time when the baby could be safely delivered and live (after 24 weeks), then there would be less discomfort but if not, it could prove dangerous to both mother and fetus. Women who are unable to avoid travel during pregnancy should make sure their insurance is good enough and covers for any medical emergencies on board and just after flight/sail. 
During air travel, when the cabin is pressurized, the reduced pressure may sometimes affect the fetus if it is weak by itself. Pregnant women and those in first month after delivery have a small but definitely increased risk of developing a blood clot in the deep veins of the leg during air travel which is called deep vein thrombosis. Sitting in cramped position in a car, bus or train has the same effect. Also the nausea and vomiting that is common during pregnancy can be aggravated during travel.

Diabetic travelers

Diabetic travelers who are insulin-dependent find trouble during travel when their travel time is long and they cross over time zones. It can cause temporary upset of diabetic control. Especially, when flying east, the time between injections need to be shortened and while flying west, it needs to be prolonged. Some airlines are equipped to take care of diabetics when special notification is made in advance.


Hypoglycaemia can occur when too much insulin is taken; too less food is taken or if there is a marked increase in physical activity. An emergency dose of glucagon should always be available to diabetic travelers just for situations like these and the dosage must be prescribed by a physician. 

Physically-challenged travellers

Travellers need to be informed that very few countries in the world are handicap-friendly and take special care of physically challenged. Before travel, kindly ensure that your destination is one of them. Aeroplanes, buses, trains and vehicles need to have ramps for the movement of wheel chairs, lavatories fitted with special seating, doors with lower handles, easy access to food and friendly employees.

*referenced from Traveller’s Health: How to Stay Healthy Abroad? By Dr. Richard Dawood

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