How to Treat Patients Who Are Always on the Road

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Photo by Rudy and Peter Skitterians / CC0

Physicians are bound to have several patients who are frequently on the road. This can often make routine visits difficult to schedule, or even cause patients to skip annual checkups all together. Since the very nature of an on-the-go lifestyle can make patients more susceptible to a variety of health problems, it’s crucial for them to both schedule and keep their appointments.

Many types of professionals, such as businessmen, musicians, aircrews or poker players, all travel frequently to meet the demands of their work. But frequent travel can often lead to poor eating and sleeping habits that can leave routine travelers feeling run down or ill. During a checkup or visit, it’s important to remind patients to foster healthy habits on the road so that they can continue functioning at their best and keep their immune system strong. Below are a few other ways physicians can provide patients with the tools they need to stay healthy on the road.

Eat Nutritious Foods

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Patients that frequently travel might be more inclined to make poor food choices, especially if they have fewer nutritious options that are readily available. During a visit, physicians should question patients about their eating habits while on the road to ensure that they’re receiving proper nutrition. If patients are feeling fatigued or otherwise run down, come up with a plan for how they can improve their diet. This often includes planning meals or snacks in advance (when healthy options aren’t likely to be available), or knowing what to look for on a menu when out to lunch or dinner.

Stay Hydrated

It’s incredibly important to stay hydrated while traveling, especially when traveling to much warmer or colder climates. Neglecting proper hydration can lead to a host of health problems, such as fatigue, headaches, confusion, dizziness, and irritability. More serious dehydration can lead to seizures, heat stroke, kidney stones or failure, and urinary tract infections. Staying hydrated is also very important when patients are traveling to less developed areas of the world, as they have a greater risk of traveler’s diarrhea.

Develop an Exercise Routine

Just because patients are constantly on the move, doesn’t mean they should neglect exercising regularly. Many hotels have gyms or swimming pools that patients can take advantage of. If these options aren’t available — or if patients want more privacy — there are a number of exercises that patients can perform in their hotel rooms, without weights or other exercise gear. Patients may also want to consider downloading an exercise app while on the road, or even browsing YouTube for a wide range of exercises to keep their workouts fresh. However, for patients that are having a hard time exercising or sticking to a routine, physicians should encourage them to start slow, never pushing their bodies to extreme levels. A good way to ease into a routine is to start by taking regular walks, which patients can do no matter where they are.

Get Enough Sleep

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Poor sleep while traveling can significantly reduce patients’ overall performance, whether at work or in their downtime. Physicians should encourage patients to adopt healthy sleep practices and stick to them, even if patients feel they can’t change their sleep habits while on the road because of factors out of their control. For patients who experience troubled sleep, physicians should work with them to determine the root of their issues and find solutions. Additionally, patients should get at least six hours of sleep per night, but should aim for seven to eight hours for optimal performance. That being said, this number varies depending on the person — some people need more sleep than others.

If patients find it difficult to make some of the above lifestyle changes while traveling, physicians should talk to them about strategies that they can work on together, and follow up on patients’ progress by phone or using the internet. This might include developing meal or exercise plans for the road, or identifying small, realistic steps that patients can take to reach their desired health goals. Still, it’s important to remind patients that they are in charge of their health. While physicians can provide patients with the tools and support they need, patients’ health is ultimately up to them — a reality that can be extremely empowering for patients.

 

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