Traveling With Porphyria

Traveling With Porphyria
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Traveling may put you at an increased risk if you have porphyria, depending on the type of disease you have. Here is some information that may help you to have a successful, safe trip.

What is porphyria?

Porphyria refers to a group of disorders in which porphyrins — chemicals the body normally uses to make hemoglobin — accumulate in the body. Hemoglobin is the protein that binds oxygen in red blood cells.

Porphyria symptoms vary depending on disease type and can range from mild to severe. Some people with porphyria have no symptoms.

Vaccines and medications for traveling

Before traveling, check with your physician about vaccines and medicines that you may need for your journey.

People with acute porphyrias can generally safely get vaccines, although there has been at least one unpublished report of an acute porphyria attack following yellow fever vaccination. Caution, therefore, may be necessary with live vaccines such as the yellow fever vaccination.

Places such as Southern Africa can put patients at risk for severe malaria. Anti-malaria medication options for acute porphyrias include chloroquine, malarone, mefloquine, and proguanil.

If you need medication for travel sickness, hyoscine hydrobromide and promethazine are generally safe options in acute porphyria.

International air travel

International air travel can cause dehydration, stress, low blood pressure, and hormone fluctuations. You also may be more likely to miss meals and consume more alcohol. Such factors can trigger acute porphyria attacks and you should minimize them if you are considering international air travel.

According to a case report, acute intermittent porphyria should be suspected in those who, following international air travel, experience unexplained acute abdominal pain.

Other traveling tips:

  • Use insect repellents and nets, wear long-sleeve shirts and pants, and avoid going out at dawn and dusk to avoid mosquito bites and reduce the risk of malaria
  • Consider carrying a course of quinine tablets or capsules so that you can begin treatment yourself if you develop malaria symptoms
  • Consider wearing a bracelet, necklace, or other items that states that you have porphyria
  • Be certain to determine the location of healthcare facilities in the destination country, in case you become ill
  • If you have cutaneous porphyrias, avoid the sun as much as possible to protect your skin and prevent rashes, blistering, or other skin problems. Wear a large hat when you are outside, and clothes that cover exposed skin. Use a sunscreen, and if you will be doing a good deal of walking, consider carrying an umbrella

 

Last updated: Oct. 6, 2020

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Porphyria News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.

Mary M. Chapman began her professional career at United Press International, running both print and broadcast desks. She then became a Michigan correspondent for what is now Bloomberg BNA, where she mainly covered the automotive industry plus legal, tax and regulatory issues. A member of the Automotive Press Association and one of a relatively small number of women on the car beat, Chapman has discussed the automotive industry multiple times of National Public Radio, and in 2014 was selected as an honorary judge at the prestigious Cobble Beach Concours d’Elegance. She has written for numerous national outlets including Time, People, Al-Jazeera America, Fortune, Daily Beast, MSN.com, Newsweek, The Detroit News and Detroit Free Press. The winner of the Society of Professional Journalists award for outstanding reporting, Chapman has had dozens of articles in The New York Times, including two on the coveted front page. She has completed a manuscript about centenarian car enthusiast Margaret Dunning, titled “Belle of the Concours.”
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Özge has a MSc. in Molecular Genetics from the University of Leicester and a PhD in Developmental Biology from Queen Mary University of London. She worked as a Post-doctoral Research Associate at the University of Leicester for six years in the field of Behavioural Neurology before moving into science communication. She worked as the Research Communication Officer at a London based charity for almost two years.
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Mary M. Chapman began her professional career at United Press International, running both print and broadcast desks. She then became a Michigan correspondent for what is now Bloomberg BNA, where she mainly covered the automotive industry plus legal, tax and regulatory issues. A member of the Automotive Press Association and one of a relatively small number of women on the car beat, Chapman has discussed the automotive industry multiple times of National Public Radio, and in 2014 was selected as an honorary judge at the prestigious Cobble Beach Concours d’Elegance. She has written for numerous national outlets including Time, People, Al-Jazeera America, Fortune, Daily Beast, MSN.com, Newsweek, The Detroit News and Detroit Free Press. The winner of the Society of Professional Journalists award for outstanding reporting, Chapman has had dozens of articles in The New York Times, including two on the coveted front page. She has completed a manuscript about centenarian car enthusiast Margaret Dunning, titled “Belle of the Concours.”
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