Allergies are insidious. They can keep at you day after day and slowly keep you from going out and enjoying life. That's why I put in a special section on travel. Be proactive and be it business or pleasure, get the most from your travels!
Below is a guide courtesy of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology (AAAAI). It offers great tips that can make or break your next trip.
If you have allergies or asthma, you know that allergens travel with you wherever you go.
Whether you are planning a visit to family or have vacation plans far from home, think about where you are going, what you will be doing and how you will get there. PACK right to stay safe.
Plan ahead. If you are traveling by air, train or boat, you may need to go through security. Keep medications in their original packaging. Carry your medications with you, or a lost suitcase could become a health crisis.
Anticipate problems and hidden allergens. If you have asthma, be sure it is under control before you travel. If you have food allergies, let people at your destination know before you get there. Take precautions and always have your rescue medicines available.
Continue taking your medications on schedule. Your allergies don't take a break just because you are on vacation. In fact, traveling may mean you are exposed to different (and more) triggers than normal. If possible, talk to your allergist/immunologist, often referred to as an allergist, before traveling to decide if any short-term adjustments are needed.
Keep your allergist's phone number and other emergency contact information on-hand. Locate an allergist or medical center in the area you are visiting in case you need an urgent appointment. Call ahead to verify they accept your insurance.
Common allergens such as mites and molds lurk in carpeting, upholstery and ventilation systems. If you have pollen or mold allergies, and are traveling by car, close your windows and turn on the air conditioning to "do not re-circulate" mode.
Outdoor air pollution can make your symptoms worse. If traveling by car, think about driving during early morning or late evening when the air quality is often better and you can avoid heavy traffic. Don't travel in a car with someone who is smoking. If you use a nebulizer for your asthma, get a portable nebulizer.
If you have food or pet allergies, you may benefit by checking airline policies before traveling. Some have "nut free" flights. Some allow pets to travel as passengers, others do not. Make sure to carry two doses of portable, injectable epinephrine, in case you have a severe allergic reaction while in flight.
If you have severe asthma or other respiratory illnesses, your physician may tell you to take supplemental oxygen. No one can be refused travel for needing supplemental oxygen; however, this has to be arranged in advance.
If you have sinusitis or an ear infection, the changes in air pressure in the plane could cause significant pain. If possible, try to delay your travel until your symptoms improve.
The air in planes is very dry. You will feel much more comfortable if you use saline nasal spray once every hour to keep the membranes in your nose moist.
Enjoy Your Stay
Hotel rooms often have a lot of dust mites and molds in carpeting, mattresses and upholstered furniture. Fumes from cleaning products may also cause problems. Ask for a "green" room if available. If you are allergic to dust mites, you may want to bring your own dust-proof, zippered covers.
If you are sensitive to molds, request a sunny, dry room away from areas near indoor pools. Also, if you have allergies to any animals, ask about the hotel's pet policy, and request a room that has been pet-free.
Visiting family and friends in their homes can be risky if you have allergies or asthma. For instance, during the holidays, dust mites on ornaments and decorations, molds on Christmas trees, wet leaves and logs for wood-burning stoves and perfumes from scented candles can all trigger allergy or asthma symptoms.
If you have pet allergies, your trip may be more enjoyable if you avoid staying in the homes of family or friends with pets.
People with food allergies should be careful about eating home-cooked foods that may contain hidden food allergens.
Activities like camping can be fun, but they can also expose you to outdoor pollen as well as to stinging insects like bees, yellow jackets and wasps. If you have these allergies, avoid camping during high pollen seasons, take your medications with you and carry injectable epinephrine to treat reactions to stinging insects. If you have a severe insect-allergic reaction, get immediate emergency medical treatment.
Walking, leisure biking and hiking are typically good activities for people with asthma or allergies. If you enjoy the mountains and have asthma, be careful if you are thinking of going above 5,000 feet, as oxygen levels decrease.
Cold weather sports such as cross-country skiing and ice hockey are more likely to make symptoms worse. Also, snorkeling is much safer than scuba diving.
An asthma treatment plan can help you keep your symptoms under control so that you can enjoy exercising or sports activities while traveling.
Bon voyage and safe travels!
If your allergies or asthma are causing problems, have a pre-trip physical.
Pack all medications, a peak flow meter and a copy of your physician's phone number.
Before traveling, get the name of an allergist practicing in your destination area from the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology's Physician Referral Directory at www.aaaai.org.
Consider buying travel medical insurance.