Travelers: To Your Good Health

Planning a global swing? A votre sante. But to keep healthy, be cautious. Montezuma's revenge can curse you even in spick-and-span Scotland and Switzerland; you can even get sick in London (ever try an Indian curry in Soho?). So, for a painless journey, here's the latest on travel health:

First: Get your shots. Smallpox (single shot) is now not required; you can get back into the UK. without it. But tetanus (three injections) and polio (two oral doses, initially) may be suggested, depending on where you are going. Tetanus, especially, makes sense in view of the surge in auto accidents (ever try driving in Rome?). As for polio: There's no evidence that people over 40 are immune - despite the rumour.

Guarding against typhoid (three shots) and infectious hepatitis (one) is smart if you'll be where the water is questionable. That can mean from Hong Kong (scrub your teeth at the tap and you may be out for a week) to a village cafe on the road to Cannes. To be on the safe side, add yellow fever, typhus, cholera, if you're going to remote areas of Asia, Latin America, or Africa.

Timing: Two visits to a doctor, spread over three weeks, will get you just about every shot on the list and take you safely from Calcutta to Panama City and back. For a European swing, figure on one fast visit if any at all.

The more time allowed for a series of shots, the better, because you avoid the possibility of "cross" reactions and sometimes dire side effects. If you're in a hurry, arrange to finish your shots overseas. Listings of recommended physicians abroad are available, and should be carried in any case if you will be travelling widely.

If you travel at lot - and to remote locales - a compact medical kit stored in your gear makes good sense. The latest recommendations:

Paregoric or Kaopectate for mild diarrhoea. If this, plus a bland diet, doesn't fix you in three or four days, you'll need to see an MD.

An oral antibiotic, like Tetracycline, plus a strong antiseptic ointment, like Mycitracin (both prescription). Drugs like these often are hard to get overseas when you need them. Note: Be cautious in buying unfamiliar drugs abroad; many potent, dangerous ones are available over the counter.

Water purification tablets (Halazone, Abbott, Globaline, Maltbie). Take along an immersion heater for fast boiling of water or coffee if you'll be in really remote areas. Or better yet drink only bottled beer, wine, water (no ice).

Motion sickness pills (Marezine, Bonine, Dramamine) for somebody in the family who's especially sensitive. You might also need antihistamines, for colds and for anyone prone to earache or deafness due to flying.

Rule of thumb: Since you'll be confronting a lot of exotic bugs, call a doctor if a fever lasts more than 24 hours. Consult your MD list, or the nearest UK. embassy or consulate.

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Morning-after Department

Despite all their resolutions, a lot of people will greet next Ne'w Year's Day - or next Sunday morning - with a king-sized hangover. The vital questions are:

How can you prepare for the night out to cut the risk of a hangover?

What can you do the next day if your precautions have failed?

There are some scientific (and some not-so-scientific) answers: The obvious thing, of course, is simply not to drink. But if this has no appeal, try to approach the evening in a relaxed mood. Emotional stress intensifies the risk of a hangover. Says Harvard specialist Dr. Morris Chafetz: "Drinking under very tense conditions adds double force to a hangover." But assume that you're relaxed,... see: Morning-after Department