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Having Inflammatory Bowel Disease should not keep anyone from enjoying travel or studying abroad. As with other medical conditions, patients with IBD should see their healthcare team as early as possible before traveling to discuss any risks that may be involved with travel, as well as plan for immunizations, medication and other medical devices that may be needed before or during the period of travel.
It may be useful to visit the International Association for Medical Assistance to Travelers at www.iamat.org
Ask your health care provider for the names of physicians in the cities you plan to visit.
For a list of foundations in cities around the world, see the International Organizations link on www.ccfa.org.
Contact your health insurance company for information on the coverage they provide to travelers and determine whether you need to purchase additional medical insurance or insurance for air evacuation in case of an emergency.
In general, we do not recommend travel to developing or tropical countries. If such travel is in your plans, you must discuss this with your primary gastroenterologist. In order to stay healthy it may be necessary for you to take precautions against conditions that have a particular prevalence in certain countries. (You may require vaccinations before you travel or need to take anti-malaria tablets before visiting certain areas.) If you're traveling outside of Europe or to an area with a high risk of disease from food, water or insects, you should contact the Travel Clinic at Boston Children’s Hospital 617-355-5945 or at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center 617-632-7740 at least one month prior to your departure.
Special precautions need to be considered if you are taking medications which lower the immune response of the body, e.g. corticosteroids (prednisone), 5-ASA preparations (mesalazine, olsalazine), 6-MP (azathioprine or imuran), Remicade (infliximab) or Humira (Adalimumab). A patient would be considered immunosuppressed if steroids have been taken at a dose of 40mg per day for more than one week or lower doses of steroids or other immuno-suppressants have been given for long periods of time.
Patients who are immuno-suppressed should not receive live vaccines until at least three months after treatment has stopped, or three months after levels have been reached that aren't associated with immuno-suppression. If “killed” vaccines are administered to patients who are immuno-suppressed the antibody response may not be enough to protect against infection. Because of this travel to certain countries may not be advised if you are taking immuno-suppressive agents and vaccinations are required. Be aware that live vaccines are required before traveling to some places in the world, like yellow fever vaccines. (If you are traveling to an area that requires such a vaccine, you may wish to reconsider your trip).
Many patients with inflammatory bowel disease are also upset by taking anti-malarial tablets. Unfortunately, these must continue as there would be a risk of contracting malaria if stopped.
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