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How to Stay Jolly, Not Sick, During the Holidays

November 15, 2010 By: Melanie Gretchen

Pumpkin pieAs sleigh bells ring in the much-anticipated season of holiday cheer, there's always caution in the wind that comes with it.  The American Pharmacists Association (APhA) offers up some tips toward their medication use when traveling to ensure the proper usage, storage and effectiveness of all medications. The proof may or may not be in the pudding.

Storing Medications

Make sure all medications are stored correctly along with ample medication and equipment. As some medications like insulin need to be kept cool, have a cooler on hand, not in direct contact with ice. Be sure any equipment, like needles or pumps, are not overlooked when packing and check with your pharmacist about storing medications and supplies for longer trips.

Be Prepared

The APhA recommends having more on hand than you expect in their original labeled containers. As extended stays can disrupt medical schedules, talk to your pharmacist about the possibility of and the best way to obtain a "vacation supply" from your insurance company, toward safe and effective medication use.

Look for Side Effects

Steer cleer of what APhA calls "Drugged Driving," after certain medications that can damage perception, judgment and reaction times. Discuss side effects with your pharmacist and the possibility of adjusting your dosing schedule to avoid times for which you may need to drive.

Have Your Records on Hand

Have a medication and vaccation record on hand when visiting your healthcare provider or pharmacist. Alongside an up-to-date history of vaccations, this will include your prescription, over-the-counter and herbal medications, how you take them and why, in the event you are admitted into a hospital or require a healthcare provider away from home. APhA provides a personal medication list at

Calculate in Any Changes

Take into account the possibility of altering your medication schedule with your healthcare provider or pharmacist, adjusted by travel and/or time and routine changes. Taking medication twice a day may translate to 12 hours apart, at a different time in another time zone, so keep that in mind when talking to your pharmacist.

Take All Medications in Your Carry-On

Store your medications together in your carry-on bag, to avoid having to replace medication in the event of lost or stolen luggage. Look up what forms of medication your airline or TSA allows. Opt to have your pharmacist pour liquid medication into smaller bottles toward meeting quantity limits on airlines.

Check for Any Conflicts

Consult your pharmacist regarding any foods or beverages that might conflict with your medications, keeping in mind unfamiliar foods accompany the discovery of unfamiliar lands.


Take care when drinking alcohol, particularly during flying or visiting places at higher altitudes, as it can interact with many prescription and over-the-counter medicines.

Take It Easy

Even on vacation, practice good hygiene, get a good night's sleep and eat well. Washing your hands and sneezing into a tissue will safeguard your health. Eat right and drink lots of water (consider having bottled water, depending where you are) to minimize the chances of you catching anything.


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