10 Ways to Rock Vacation With Psoriatic Arthritisby Tracy Davenport, Ph.D. Health Writer
Having psoriatic arthritis does not have to prevent you from planning an epic vacation with your friends or family. However, in order to make it the ultimate experience, you will need to be thoughtful before and during your trip about how to best care for your body.
Avoid Excessive Alcohol
Going on spring break? These trips are synonymous with beach bars and late-night partying. However, according to the National Psoriasis Foundation, drinking alcohol has a negative effect on response to treatment and on the likelihood of disease remission. If you know you will be spending time at bars, explore non-alcoholic drink options. Try a Roy Rogers, No-Tequila Sunrise, or anything “virgin” on the menu.
Talk to Your Friends About Your Needs
Psoriatic arthritis can be invisible to others. Many of your vacation buddies may not know that you are living with a disease. It is completely up to you how much you share about your disease with your friends. However, you will probably find support when you discuss your need to stay as healthy as possible while you are away and out of your normal routine with your friends.
Shop for Food Separately
If you are going to be staying in a house or condominium, you will most likely hit the local grocery store as soon as you arrive to load up on the week’s provisions. This will be a good opportunity to pick out your own food for the week. Psoriatic arthritis causes swelling, so it is important to choose anti-inflammatory foods such as leafy green vegetables and dark fruits like cherries and blueberries. Refined sugars and overly processed foods should be very limited.
Keep on Your Medication Schedule
One of the fun parts about going on vacation is that you get to take a break from your daily routine. However, many medications require that you take them at approximately the same time every day in order for them to work well. Before you get started on your break, make a mental note of what time you take your medications at home and try your best to stay as close to your medication routine as possible.
Talk to Your Doctor Before Your Trip
Trips can often include out-of-the-ordinary activities such as hiking, dancing, or watersports. If you are not used to doing these activities, they might cause a flare-up. Talking to your doctor before your break about some of the activities you hope to participate in may be a good idea. As a result of this conversation, he might want to prescribe a stronger medication for you until your routine returns to normal.
It is a good idea for all of us to pace ourselves on vacation in order to feel good for the duration of the trip. Walking 10 miles on the beach or falling asleep for hours in the afternoon sun on the first day can start the vacation off in the wrong direction. While some sun is therapeutic, a sunburn can worsen psoriasis symptoms. Most likely, one of the purposes of your trip is to rejuvenate. Keep in mind what your body requires to perform at its best.
Keep Your Medical Paperwork Organized
If you've ever shared a hotel room, you know that it can get real messy, very quickly. That’s part of the fun. However, when you are traveling with a chronic condition, it's important that you keep your medical information as organized as possible. You may find it helpful to keep your medications, insurance card, and provider numbers in a zip-locked plastic bag in the room’s safe. Or try an app: CareZone, which helps you organize your medical documents, might help.
Be Prepared to Apply Ice or Heat
Ice is known to reduce inflammation, especially if it is applied immediately after exercise or injury. You may find that placing an ice pack on your most tender joints for 20 minutes at a time after an intense activity can be helpful. If there is a pharmacy nearby, you can purchase flexible ice packs or just use a bag of ice from your hotel’s ice machine. A warm bath or compress can also help in the morning or before an activity if your joints are feeling stiff.
Maintain a Good Attitude
With or without psoriatic arthritis, not every day of vacation, spring break or otherwise, will be free from hassles. Life has its ups and downs, even on vacation. If you have a day when you do not feel well or things are not going as planned, try to relax and remember it is all part of the journey.