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by Robert MacKay, Saturday, June 11, 2016 | Categories: Travel Clinic

Combatting Jet Lag

Whether we travel often for business, have family on another continent, or have a big summer getaway planned, flying is something that a lot of us end up doing once or twice a year. Thankfully, modern innovations have made flying more and more convenient and comfortable over the years. But if there’s one obstacle that we always face – no matter how good those first class seats – it’s jet lag.

Jet lag is a label given to a set of symptoms that you experience after a long-haul flight. Though it might not give you much cause for concern when compared to other travel-related conditions such as malaria, jet lag is something that can seriously derail a holiday or business trip.

Luckily, there are certain things you can do to get around the worst symptoms, and if the latest research into light therapy is to be believed, even more help could be on the way. Read on to find out more.

Causes & Symptoms

Jet lag happens when your body crosses several time zones and has to readjust to the new schedule. It all comes down to your body’s circadian rhythms, which essentially provide an inner timetable for waking, eating and sleeping. When you enter a new time zone on a drastically different schedule to the one you have come from, your circadian rhythms have trouble adapting.

The main symptom is sleep disturbance, where you find yourself unable to drop off or wake up at the appropriate times. You may also find your appetite is disrupted. Resulting symptoms can include constipation, diarrhoea, anxiety, irritability, lethargy, confusion and a general feeling of being unwell. In some cases, the symptoms can last up to six days.

Preventing Jet Lag

It’s not easy to avoid jet lag, particularly if you’re travelling west to east. The good news is that there are some techniques you can use before you arrive at your destination.

Before you travel, try to adapt your sleep routine slightly to the new time zone. You should also try to get a good night’s sleep before you fly – so if you’re very concerned about jet lag, avoid booking an early flight.

Once on the plane, switch your watch to the new time zone immediately. Avoid alcohol and caffeine, and drink lots of water. Try and sleep if you can (an eye mask, ear plugs and comfy socks help), and take regular breaks from your seat to stretch your legs.

Having arrived at your destination, try your hardest to adapt to the new time zone straight away. Eat at the appropriate meal times, get used to being outside in the natural light when the sun is up, and – whatever you do – don’t take naps.

Lastly, there’s been some interesting research carried out into the effects of light therapy. Researchers at Stanford University have found that exposing your eyes to flashes of bright light while you are sleeping can help your body adjust to a new time zone before you arrive in it. Learn more here.

Treating Jet Lag

If you follow the tips above, you should find that any symptoms ease off within a few days. However, if you’re on a short trip and you need to make the most of your time, there are a couple of treatments you can try.

The first is sleeping tablets, which you may be able to obtain through a prescription from your GP, depending upon your specific needs. The second is melatonin. Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone that your body releases in the evening to signal that it’s time to sleep. It stops being released in the morning, at which point your body wakes up.

In the UK, melatonin is prescribed to help treat insomnia. However, it can also be used off-label to combat jet lag. It comes in the form of a tablet and is taken with food a few hours before you intend to sleep. Prescribing medicines off-label (i.e. for another purpose than that for which they are licensed) is a safe and common practice in the UK when it is done through a registered medical service such as The Online Clinic.

If you would like to learn more about jet lag or order melatonin from The Online Clinic, click here.

by Robert MacKay, Saturday, October 5, 2013 | Categories: Malaria Treatments | Travel Clinic

There was a recent announcement from Public Health England regarding the number of malaria deaths in London in the last 4 years. The malaria was not acquired in the UK – so don’t start to worry! The people who died contracted the disease in sub-Saharan Africa, with Nigeria accounting for more than half of the infections. The problem stems from people not taking malaria medication when they travel to affected areas. Many people who visit these countries are former residents who wrongly believe that they have immunity. Malaria immunity requires persistent exposure to the disease and clearly this will not be happening if you live in London.

If you are travelling overseas then you can check out the UK Government’s Fit for Travel website for information on the malaria risk and the recommended preventative medication. You cannot get malaria medication on the NHS for foreign trips but your NHS GP will write a private prescription for you.

If you have recently returned from a region affected by malaria and you experience headaches and nausea then you should seek medical assistance.

If you are travelling to a part of the world affected by malaria then The Online Clinic can prescribe medication for you for next day delivery.

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by Robert MacKay, Monday, January 7, 2013 | Categories: Travel Clinic

Following the recent supply chain issue with the popular anti-malarial medication, Malarone, we are happy to say that we now have this item back in stock. Malone can be prescribed for next day delivery. If you have not yet created a consultation for a malarial prophylaxis, you can do so by clicking on the free consultation button below.

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by Robert MacKay, Thursday, December 20, 2012 | Categories: Travel Clinic

The popular anti-malarial medication, Malarone, is out of stock until the third week in January owing to a supply chain issue. This will affect all UK based pharmacies. We can recommend alternative medications as a malarial prophylaxis appropriate to the region that you will be visiting. Please be aware that some malarial medications need to be taken a week before you enter the risk area. One of the attractions of Malarone is that it can be taken 1 – 2 days before you enter the malaria area and only needs to be taken for 7 days when you have left the risk area. Some other treatments must be taken for 4 weeks after leaving. If you require any specific advice on appropriate treatment then you can contact us or consult the Fit for Travel website.

by Robert MacKay, Tuesday, December 4, 2012 | Categories: Travel Clinic

Receiving adequate amounts of sleep is one of the most fundamental areas to help a person’s wellbeing. It is well known that sleep aids metabolism, alertness and even a person’s mood. However, travelling across time-zones is one of the most common ways of disturbing regular sleep patterns, which often results in jet-lag. Now researchers at Flinders University in Australia claim to have developed green light glasses that appear to adjust individuals’ circadian rhythms and as such could be useful to help individuals with their jet-lag.

The glasses work by emitting a light green light, which is picked up by photoreceptors in our eyes. These photoreceptors then signal to an area within a persons’ brain responsible for adjusting the hormones that play a part in regulating sleep patterns. Using light therapy to correct sleep disturbances in not novel, as studies have consistently demonstrated how travelling to other time zones as well as working irregular hours often disturbs this sensitive process that starts in the photoreceptors. However, this is the first time to our knowledge that glasses have been developed.

Flinders University is known for their sleep research department and the developers of these glasses claim it to be the outcome of 25 years of research. They further argue that this light therapy may be safer than other alternatives for treating jet lag. However, we are sceptical about this claim as no clinical trial data has been released. Similarly, the researchers have recommended that these glasses be used on a daily basis, which raises concern as to how useful they could be in curing one-off disruptions after a long journey.

We are glad to hear that treatments for jet-lag are still being researched however we would always be cautious to jump to any conclusions of a treatment’s efficacy without sufficient scientific support that has been peer-reviewed. We will be on the lookout for further findings in this area in order to evaluate their implications and will keep our readers updated.

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