*This is a collaborative guest post
Family holidays are one of the most anticipated events of the year. Providing endless laughs and adventures for children and parents alike, you’re sure to create memories that will last a lifetime. That being said, it’s easy to get caught up in the fun and excitement of it all and perhaps think a little less about the safety precautions that accompany travelling. Here are some essentials for preparing and safeguarding two lesser-discussed areas of health care for travel: your eyes and ears.
Protecting eyes in unfamiliar climates
Most holiday destinations typically involve the tranquillity of exotic beaches or mountains draped with glistening snow. It’s the unfamiliarity of these environments that draws us to visit them, but the sudden change from what we are used to back home brings challenges for our vision.
A common condition that occurs during travels is dry eye syndrome. This affects people of all ages and develops when the tear production process is disrupted, leaving eyes dehydrated, red, and swollen. The air in hot and dry climates contains dust and sand that can easily drift into eyes and block tear ducts.
Keeping your eyes clean and protected from exposure to dirt as much as possible is essential. You should take particular care to wipe around your eyes gently before bed. Always use clean, damp cotton wool or disposable eyelid wipes, using a separate one for each eye where possible to avoid spreading bacteria between them. Cold winds also dehydrate eyes, especially if you are travelling at speed into them either on a bike or a pair of skis. Rather than wearing standard sunglasses, use wrap-around goggles to provide complete protection against the air from all angles.
You should consult an eye specialist before your holiday if you or a member of your family is particularly susceptible to dry eyes. Eye drops are available and work to sustain moisture levels, both treating and preventing dry eye syndrome.
Dealing with aeroplane ear
For a sufferer of aeroplane ear, the biggest health challenge comes before their holiday has truly begun. Causing pain and discomfort, this condition occurs due to the sudden change in air pressure during take-off and landing. When we are on the ground, the air pressures inside and outside the middle ear are near enough balanced. This changes during the rise and descent of an aircraft where the external atmospheric pressure of a plane conflicts with your middle ear, putting strain on the eardrum. This often results in mild irritation, but for some the symptoms of aeroplane ear can be extremely painful.
Air travels into our middle ear via a passage called the Eustachian tube. This stays closed most of the time, only opening when we either yawn or swallow. It is when it opens that air pressure can be balanced out. You can encourage the Eustachian tube to open and ease the symptoms of aeroplane ear by drinking water or sucking on a hard sweet. Over-the-counter medication such as decongestant nasal sprays and antihistamines can also help with this.
Sun and sea safety
There’s endless fun to be had both on the beach and in the sea, and it’s likely going to be here where families will spend the majority of their holiday. While the risks of UV rays to skincare are widely reported, the dangers posed to eyes are too often underestimated. Sunburnt skin provides an instant warning of the dangers of the sun that, despite being painful, is a convenient reminder to pack the suncream. Continued exposure to the sun can seriously damage your vision, potentially leading to conditions including cataracts, macular degeneration, and corneal sunburn. Unlike some cheap off-the-counter shades, prescription sunglasses provide complete protection from harmful rays.
There’s no way of knowing what seawater contains, especially when venturing into distant tropical waters. Even the most inviting of oceans contains a mixture of bacteria and dirt that can infect eyes and ears. UV goggles safeguard eyes from grit and germs whilst eliminating any damage of sunlight reflected against the water’s surface. Ear plugs will provide the same defence for your ears, preventing the onset of nasty conditions such as swimmer’s ear and surfer’s ear.
It’s recommended that you pack extra eye and ear medication for your travels. Stock up on disposable contacts, prescription drops, and take with you details of any current prescriptions should you need to locate anything in a hurry. If you have existing vision or hearing care concerns then it is worth consulting a specialist to ensure you are fully equipped for your adventure. The experts at Leightons provide tailored treatments and advice for all aspects of eye and ear health. Get in touch today to book an appointment at your local branch.