It is extremely important that you complete the medical information in the Go Abroad portal. All medical information is confidential. However, this information will help us be prepared to assist you throughout your stay in Cortona and especially in case of emergency. Having a thorough physical before traveling is strongly suggested.
In Italy, if you experience any medical problems, please do not keep them to yourself. As soon as possible, contact the Director of the program or one of the program administrators.
Apart from emergencies, here are some tips to help you get medically ready to go travel abroad. It takes only a little common sense and vigilance--plus a few tricks--to stay healthy and happy even when roaming the world. Every year, hundreds of thousands of Americans travel to other countries and, for the most part, enjoy themselves illness free.
Generally, travel directly from the United States to European countries does not require additional vaccinations; however, several other vaccines may be recommended. Please check with your health professional for advice. At the University of Georgia, the University Health Center Allergy/Travel Clinic is dedicated to travel needs. All registered UGA students may use the services. The telephone number is (706) 542-5575. Not all doctors will have vaccinations in stock, so plan accordingly.
Immunization is required for travel to certain other countries, especially non- European countries. If you are planning to travel outside of Europe, please find out before you leave for the Studies Abroad Program what kind of medical protection is required for the other countries you plan to visit.
The most common of all travelers’ ills is probably diarrhea. The most effective prevention for diarrhea is care in drinking and eating. Impure water (including ice) is one of the most common sources of the bacteria which can make the traveler's sojourn in a foreign land miserable for a few days. This risk can be minimized by using soft drinks, or bottled water (acqua minerale) instead of tap water. Food is harder than water to control as a source of bacteria which may cause diarrhea. The risk can be minimized by avoiding all raw food, or by washing and peeling all raw fruit and vegetables.
Diarrhea occurs sometimes, despite all precautions. When it does, there are numerous medications and home remedies that are said to relieve the symptoms but none are perfect. Have your physician suggest a fast acting diarrhea medication that you can take with you in case you need it. Tablets are easier than liquids to carry in a handbag. In Italy, Imodium is sold over-the- counter in most pharmacies.
Jet Lag / Field Trips
A common problem with modern traveling arises from the physiological effects of long distance non-stop jet flights, particularly from west to east, best known as jet lag. Fatigue, insomnia, anxiety or depression are among the more common symptoms. They arise because the body clock is still set on your departure time while your time of arrival is hours slower or faster, depending on the direction of your flight.
An article in the Western Journal of Medicine suggested these ways to reduce jet lag symptoms:
- Use food and drink (alcohol) sparingly three days after arrival
- Arrange your schedule to shorten the day rather than the night
- Keep well hydrated on the flight. Drink at least one glass of water every hour. Avoid heavy meals, carbonated beverages, and alcohol!!!
- Motion sickness: Bring travel gum if you tend to feel nauseous on bus or car trips as many of the roads we travel on are windy or narrow.
If you need a physician while with the program, please contact the Director or a program administrator right away. They will assist you in getting to the appropriate doctor or hospital. Cortona only has emergency service and an ambulance, but a complete care hospital is located in Camucia, approximately five miles away.
Each year, usually in the summer, there are one or two students who have mild or moderate allergic reactions to insect bites they receive here in Italy. Window screens are very uncommon in Italy, but there are other measures you can take to prevent or reduce the annoyance of insect bites:
- Apply an insect repellent to your exposed skin – there are many effective types available here, sold in grocery stores, hardware stores, and pharmacies.
- If you know you will be outdoors, especially if you are in the shade, or if it is dusk when mosquitoes are most active, wear clothing that covers as much of your skin as possible. Outdoor cafès, movies in the park, visits to the lake, and watching the stars at night are all opportunities for biting insects to strike!
- Use an insect repellant made for use on clothing and bedding.
- Use a “Vape”, an Italian-made device that plugs into the wall and heats up a tablet until it vaporizes an insecticide into the room. These devices are highly effective, but should not be used for extensive periods of time in closed spaces. They can be used with the window open, which is great for sleeping on summer nights!
- Sleep under mosquito netting.
- Avoid wearing colognes or perfumes, which may attract biting bugs.
- Avoid walking through or sitting in areas with tall grass or brush.
- Avoid contact with stray animals that may have fleas, ringworm, or other parasites.
- Do not keep food in your room, as this attracts insects (and rodents!)
- Do not take dormitory blankets out onto the terraces – if you do, you will certainly bring bugs back into your bed! Buy a big beach towel at the market to use instead – it can be washed afterwards.
- Keep clothes and other items off the floor in the dorms, so the housekeepers can clean the rooms thoroughly.
- If you are bitten, use an after-bite product, such as calamine lotion, hydrocortisone cream, or witch hazel, to relieve the pain and irritation. These are available in Italian grocery stores and pharmacies.
If you have been bitten, you will probably feel it within minutes. It sometimes happens, however, that symptoms do not appear for 6 to 12 hours. Usually the symptoms disappear in two or three days, but excessive scratching may prolong healing for several weeks. If you have a particularly strong reaction to an insect bite, ask at the pharmacy for over-the-counter medicine to alleviate the irritation and promote healing.
Some medical items you might consider taking with you:
- Any prescription medication you are presently taking, enough to last the whole time you'll be abroad and copies of the prescription plus the phone number and name of the doctor who prescribed it
There is often a significant hold-up at Italian Customs for any medications, pharmaceuticals, or prescriptions that are shipped to Italy. PLEASE pack all necessary prescriptions for the semester or expect to do without
- A spare pair of glasses (or a copy of the prescription)
- Non-narcotic pain reliever such as aspirin (in small amounts since these over the counter drugs are available in Cortona)
- Any non-prescription, special medication that you usually take
- Motion sickness medication! Many of our field trips are on buses that travel windy or narrow roads.
- Anti-diarrhea or constipation remedies suggested by your physician
- Any medications must remain in the original dispensing container and be properly labeled. Over-the-counter drugs should have the chemical name and dosage. Prescriptions must include your name, the chemical name, the dosage and the issuing doctor’s name.
- Carry all medications in your hand/carry on luggage.
- DO NOT PUT MEDICATION, INHALERS, INSULIN, or ANY MEDICATION YOU WILL NEED ON A CONSTANT BASIS IN CHECKED LUGGAGE. ALWAYS PUT THESE ITEMS IN YOUR CARRY-ON LUGGAGE SO YOU ARE CERTAIN TO ALWAYS HAVE THEM WITH YOU.
On your return home
If you traveled to a developing country, public health authorities recommend that you be screened for any diseases you may have acquired. Regardless of where you have been you should see a doctor if you develop a fever or diarrhea after returning home.