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In a time warp

October 18, 2009|CATHARINE HAMM

Question: I'm trying to develop a time schedule to take some medications every 12 hours. I will be traveling from Atlanta to Melbourne, Australia, by way of Los Angeles, for about 10 days. Do you take the medication according to the time where you came from or where you are going? Let me know, and I will set my alarm in my phone accordingly.

Kwietha Bolden

Atlanta

Answer: It's 3:48 p.m. on a Thursday as I write this. Quickly, what time is it in Manila? (6:48 a.m. Friday.) Warsaw? (12:48 a.m. Friday.) Buenos Aires? (7:48 p.m. Thursday.) (A useful website for checking world times: www.timeanddate.com.)

If you're supposed to take your medications at 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., what time do you take them on local time?

Therein lies the problem. Bolden will use the alarm on her phone to signal her when to take the medications, which is smart, but that could have her up and down at all hours of the night.

That may not be necessary, says Dr. Charles Ericsson of the University of Texas Medical School at Houston and director of the Travel Medicine Clinic. "Most physicians would probably tell you it would be all right to keep shifting that [medication schedule] by an hour or two each day until you can get on a more convenient schedule and, on return, slowly shift it back," he says.

But, he notes, the key is checking with your doctor because it depends on the medication; some, such as insulin, are trickier than others.

Dr. Michael Zimring, author of "Healthy Travel: Don't Travel Without It!" suggests taking a "day-of-the-week" medication box so your jet-lagged brain doesn't forget.

But transfer the pills to the box after you get to your destination because you must keep medications in their original containers, the State Department notes on its www.travel.state.gov website.

"A traveler going abroad with a preexisting medical problem should carry a letter from the attending physician, describing the medical condition and any prescription medications, including the generic names of prescribed drugs," the State Department says.

"Travelers should check with the foreign embassy of the country they are visiting to make sure any required medications are not considered to be illegal narcotics. (A listing of foreign embassies and consulates in the U.S. is available on the State Department's website at www.state.gov/s/cpr/rls/dpl/32122.htm.)"

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Have a travel dilemma? Write to travel@latimes.com

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