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Dr Deb's tips on travelling with kids in Southeast Asia

 I’m travelling with my two children in Southeast Asia. Dr Deb are there any special health tips for that area?
Before you fly make sure all your kids vaccines are up to date. I recommend usual childhood vaccines plus Hepatitis A and sometimes Typhoid and Rabies.  A great tip for flying more comfortably and alleviating any ear pressure is to give you children something to drink as soon as the plane takes off. Swallowing makes the eustacian tubes open so the pressure equalises between outer ear and middle ear - screaming from pain does the same thing, but is less socially acceptable!

The stomachs of children have less acid, and empty faster compared to adults, so children are more susceptible to diarrhoea. Research on Swiss travellers showed the highest incidence, most severe disease and longest duration of travellers diarrhoea occurred in travellers under the age of three. If children get diarrhoea, they should never be starved. Babies should continue breastfeeding or taking formula plus be given oral rehydration fluids (e.g. Hydralyte). Do not give loperamide to children under 6 years of age. Older children should be given starchy foods e.g. cooked rice, maize, wheat (toast), or potatoes. Bananas are useful to supply needed potassium. Children who are dehydrated should never be given soft drinks. Soft drinks contain too much sugar, and not enough potassium and salt, so tend to make dehydration worse. Unfortunately taste is not a reliable way of avoiding the addition of too much salt.

Antibiotics may sometimes be recommended but that must be prescribed by a travel doctor - what you need depends on the age of child and the destination.

The best mosquito repellent is ideally 30% DEET as it I clinically proven to be the most effective to apply on skin. Repellents work by blocking the receptors on the mosquitoes antennae, so they cannot find you. A concentration of 30% DEET is recommended for everyone over 2months of age. It should give protection for 4-5 hours. Higher concentrations protect for longer.
Dr Deb Mills is the author of the medical travel book Travelling Well.

Send travel questions to For more travel information and resources call p 07 3221 9066 or visit www.drdeb.com.au

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