Decoding Your Own Medical Care

4 Things Travelers Need To Know About Yellow Fever Vaccines

International travel can be fun, but your vacation may expose you to more than just new food and new people; it may also expose you to diseases you won’t encounter at home, like yellow fever. Fortunately, a vaccine is available for yellow fever, so you don’t need to let serious illness ruin your holiday. Here are four things you need to know about the vaccine.

What is yellow fever?

Yellow fever is a serious mosquito-borne viral disease. A few days after being bitten by a mosquito that carries the virus, you’ll enter the acute phase of the disease. During the acute phase, people suffer from symptoms that are unpleasant but not generally life-threatening, such as headaches, fever, muscle aches, and dizziness. The acute phase lasts for several days, and for many people, that is the end of the disease.

Other people aren’t so lucky and enter the toxic phase of yellow fever a couple days after they start to feel better. The toxic phase is what can kill you. It leads to symptoms like jaundice, organ failure, seizures, and coma. According to the World Health Organization, epidemics of yellow fever can kill more than 50% of sufferers. Getting vaccinated before your trip is the best way to keep yourself safe.

Which travelers are at risk?

If you plan to travel to parts of Africa or South America, you may be at risk. Yellow fever is endemic to much of West Africa, Equatorial Africa, and East Africa. It’s also endemic to the Amazon region of South America and surrounding areas.

Your destination isn’t the only risk factor; your planned activities also play a role. If you plan to spend a lot of time outdoors, such as camping, hiking, or biking, you’re more likely to be bitten by mosquitoes than you would be if you planned to stay indoors.

How is the vaccine given?

This vaccine is only given at approved centers, so your doctor may need to send you to another office to get it. The vaccine is given in the form of a single injection. Even though only one shot is needed, you still shouldn’t wait until right before your trip to get it, as your certificate of vaccination won’t be valid until ten days after your shot.

How effective is the vaccine?

This vaccine is very effective. It’s almost 100% effective and will last for the rest of your life. Some countries require you to get booster shots every 10 years, even though this is no longer medically necessary, so depending on your travel plans, you may need a booster shot in the future.

If you plan to travel to Africa or South America, talk to your doctor about getting vaccinated for yellow fever. Contact a company like Rocky Mountain Family Physicians for more information.

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3 Common Causes of Extremely Painful Periods

As any woman can tell you, the discomfort and cramping that is associated with monthly menstruation can be quite unpleasant. While the majority of women experience some type of discomfort during and leading up to their period, a much smaller amount of women can have extremely heavy bleeding and severe pain that is not indicative of normal menstruation. Several different conditions can cause this type of period, and most of them can be treated by your gynecologist. Here are some of the most common:


Uterine fibroids are small growths within the uterus that are non cancerous. Fibroids are extremely common in women, and for the majority of women who develop them, they are very small and do not cause any symptoms. However, fibroids that grow large in size, or a large cluster of fibroids, can cause extremely heavy periods with blood clots, as well as extremely painful cramps. Gynecologists typically treat women with problematic fibroids through hormonal therapy or surgery to either cut off the blood supply to the fibroids or remove them all together. It is possible for fibroids to cause fertility problems, so if you regularly experience horrible periods, get checked out by your gynecologist.


Endometriosis is a condition in which the lining of a woman’s uterus begins growing in other regions of the pelvis, such as the ovaries, fallopian tubes, bladder, and pelvic floor. This condition can cause blood-filled cysts to form, as well as adhesions, internal bleeding, and chronic inflammation. Periods are particularly painful for women afflicted with endrometriosis, and some unlucky women may experience pain from the condition all month long. Endometriosis can be treated with hormonal birth control, or your gynecologist may opt to surgically remove as much uterine lining growing outside the uterus as possible if you are trying to get pregnant. In the most severe cases of endometriosis, a full hysterectomy may be recommended.

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)

Pelvic inflammatory disease is an infection that is usually the result of untreated sexually transmitted diseases. If PID is not treated promptly with antibiotics, it can lead to scarring and inflammation that can cause infertility, so it is a good idea to always practice safe sex and have an STD panel done on a regular basis. Antibiotics can clear up the infection, but they cannot reverse any scarring that occurs, so if you are experiencing very painful periods and pelvic pain it is in your best interest to seek treatment as soon as possible. Look up gynecologists in your area to find one that you trust and don’t hesitate to contact him or her whenever you have questions.

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