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Plan Ahead When Traveling With Allergies And Asthma This Summer

Armen Hareyan's picture

Allergies And Asthma

You can plan ahead for the changes in your environment that may affect your allergies or asthma.

As summer approaches, family vacations and travel kick into high gear. More than 650 million long distance trips are taken by families in the United States each summer. Unfortunately, if you have allergies or asthma, the symptoms travel with you.

"Although your allergies may follow you when traveling, there are steps you can take to minimize your symptoms," said Richard W. Weber, MD, FAAAAI, and Chair of the AAAAI's Aerobiology Committee. "If you properly plan your vacation, you will prevent your allergy symptoms from getting out of control and possibly ruining your trip."

If you are planning a long vacation, consider visiting your allergist/immunologist for a pre-trip physical. An allergist/immunologist is the best qualified professional trained in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of allergic diseases. Research has shown that patients under the care of an allergist/immunologist miss less work and school and have significantly fewer visits to the hospital.

Here are some traveling tips for those who suffer from allergies and asthma:

-- Before beginning a lengthy auto trip, try turning on the air conditioner or heater and open the windows for at least 10 minutes prior to entering the car. This will help remove dust mites and/or molds that may be in the system.

-- Outdoor allergens, such as pollens and molds, are also potential hazards, especially when traveling with open windows. If you have been diagnosed with pollen or mold allergies, close your windows and turn on the air conditioning instead.

-- To avoid excess air pollution when traveling by automobile, travel in early morning or late evening, when the air quality is better and you can avoid heavy traffic.

-- When making hotel reservations, ask if there are allergy-proof rooms available. If you are sensitive to molds, request a sunny, dry room away from areas near indoor pools.

-- If you have food allergies, be extremely cautious when eating airline or restaurant food because the ingredients may not be listed. Make sure to carry your portable, injectable epinephrine in case you have a severe reaction.

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-- If you have sinusitis, or a sinus or ear infection, air travel could cause significant pain. Try to delay your travel until your symptoms improve. If you usually experience severe ear or sinus pain while flying, take a short-acting oral decongestant or use a nasal spray decongestant about one hour before takeoff.

-- The air in planes is very dry. Use saline nasal spray once every hour to keep your nasal membranes moist.

-- It may seem obvious, but pack all medications you will need on your trip. Make sure you bring more than enough, and store them in their original containers, which list instructions on how to take the medications and obtain refills.

Taking appropriate precautions, such as seeing an allergist/immunologist for a pre-trip physical, can ensure an enjoyable vacation for those with asthma and allergies. Bon Voyage!

hen to see an allergy/asthma specialist

The AAAAI's How the Allergist/Immunologist Can Help: Consultation and Referral Guidelines Citing the Evidence provide information to assist patients and health care professionals in determining when a patient may need consultation or ongoing specialty care by the allergist/immunologist. Patients should see an allergist/immunologist if they:

-- Need to confirm the diagnosis of asthma.

-- Need education on asthma and guidance in techniques for self-management.

-- Experience an itchy mouth from raw fruits and vegetables or other possible adverse reactions to foods.

-- Need management and education concerning environmental triggers.

-- Have a history of seasonal or persistent asthma, nasal or eye symptoms, for evaluation of inhalant sensitization.

-- For consideration of immunotherapy (allergy shots).