Asthma Traveling

An asthma attack can be a frightening thing — the wheezing, labored breathing, and chest constriction are extremely unpleasant. Even more unpleasant is an asthma attack when you are far away from home. But don’t let asthma hold you back. Just like the initial adjustment to living with asthma, traveling with asthma requires changes to your old routine. If you have your asthma under control, you’ll be able to travel. Since you’ll be in a new environment it is important to plan ahead and take precautions to prevent an asthma flare up while on the go.

Checking In With Your Doctor

Before a big trip, your first stop should be a visit to the physician’s office. You’ll want to follow some simple steps before you begin traveling:

  • Let your doctor know about your travel plans, and see if she has any suggestions. Review your triggers with her and discuss emergency treatment.
  • Make sure all your prescriptions are up-to-date and that you have an adequate amount of medicine.
  • Request a written summary of your treatment plan. If you do need to visit a doctor while traveling, it will be important to have a physical listing of all the medications that you are taking, along with their generic names. (This is especially true if you a traveling to a non-English speaking country).

Hosts, Hotels, and a Little Bit of Home

As you plan your trip, there are steps you can take to make your travels easier. If you are staying in a private home, talk to your host. Find out if they have pets, smoke indoors, or have any other environmental triggers in their home. If so, see if it is possible to keep Fido out of your bedroom and the smoking outdoors for the duration of your stay. Most hosts will be willing to accommodate your medical needs, but if you think you won’t be able to control your asthma, consider staying in a hotel.

Hotels present their own set of challenges. At the very least, request a non-smoking room and ask if they have allergy-proof rooms available. Wherever you are staying, you may want to bring your own pillow.

Allergies In the Air

Flying with asthma requires planning as well. When packing, be sure your inhalers are easily accessible. Keep them in your carry-on bag and within easy reach during the flight. You should also keep a copy of your treatment list handy.

Let your traveling companions know about your asthma, and what they can do to help if you begin having trouble breathing. They’ll be your voice during an asthma attack, so you ought to brief them on both your triggers and treatments.

All domestic flights in the United States are smoke-free. Some international carriers, however, still allow smoking. Check with the airline and, if they do allow smoking, request a seat as far from the smoking section as possible.

Allergies On the Ground

If you’ve rented a car, take a few minutes to flush it of potential triggers. Simply blast the heater or air conditioner with the windows open. You’ll dry out any allergens and send them out of the car. Of course, after you have done this, shut the windows to keep any pollen out.

Before leaving, look into air quality in the region you’ll be visiting. Air pollution varies and may be much different than you are used to at home. Be prepared for new triggers and keep your inhaler handy.

Planning on new activities while on your trip? Part of traveling with asthma is taking precautions before engaging in any exercise. If you are participating in an activity with a leader, let her know about your asthma. This is especially true for sports such as scuba diving.

The Littlest Traveler

Traveling with asthma can be especially challenging for a child. Following the above suggestions is a must. Make sure they take their medicine at the proper times and always have it within reach. Additionally, talk to your child. Children tend to ignore their symptoms if they are in the middle of a new activity.

If your child is traveling without you, speak to the trip chaperone. Provide a list of medications and emergency contact numbers.

Remember: safety takes no holidays. Plan ahead and traveling with asthma will be a breeze.

Resources

Asthma Society of Canada Staff. (2009). Lifestyle. Retrieved March 14, 2009, from the Mayo Clinic Web site: http://www.asthma.ca/adults/lifestyle/exercise.php.Kids

Health Staff. (2007). Traveling with asthma. Retrieved March 16, 2009, from the KidsHeath Web site: http://kidshealth.org/parent/medical/asthma/travel_asthma.html.

Mayo Clinic Staff. (2008). Asthma. Retrieved March 15, 2009, from the Mayo Clinic Web site: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/asthma/DS00021.

US News and World Report Staff. (2006). Asthma and allergy center: travel. Retrieved March 16, 2009, from the US News and World Report Web site: http://health.usnews.com/usnews/health/allergy/asthma/asthma.manage.travel.htm.