Traveling With Asthma: Part I
Ahhhhh, I can still remember the excitement of childhood summer vacations. Suitcases were packed, treats for the long road to Colorado were tucked into the back of the family station wagon and with our AAA TripTik in hand, we were ready for adventure. Who could forget the evening smell of the Kansas cornfields, the crisp mountain air or…the smoke drifting to the back of the car from my Dad’s cigarettes? Times have changed, awareness has grown and many families are asthma-smart when it’s time to travel.
It’s wise to review travel tips each summer as needs change and each trip, whether it’s for an extended stay at Grandma’s, a family trek to a theme park or packing up for sleep-over camp, is different. So what’s the key to a positive memory-filled experience? Preparation, and lots of it! More than one parent has been exhausted at the beginning of a trip, but investing time and energy before you leave the safety of home is time well spent.
Here are some valuable tips to insure that your adventure is healthy:
Before you leave……
1. Talk to your healthcare professional about your travel plans. Is your or your child’s asthma well-controlled? Can your physician recommend the name of a colleague who practices in the area you are visiting so you are prepared for an emergency? Is there a convenient hospital?
Discuss vacation activities with your healthcare professional. Dreaming of scuba diving? It’s an extremely questionable activity for individuals with asthma. High altitude hiking or biking are additional plans that merit discussion.
Medications should be another part of your consultation with your healthcare professional. Are your prescriptions for all medications, including those for rescue and long-term control, up to date and in adequate supply to last the entire length of the trip? If you are traveling to a different time zone, talk to your healthcare professional about how medication use be affected.
Do you need emergency medicine, like antihistamines, epinephrine or oral corticosteroids? Now is the time to review your asthma action plan.
2. If you are flying, keep all medications in their original containers and carry them with you, not in checked luggage which may be lost. If possible, pack extra medication and carry it in two different places. Put all medications in a bag, complete with an inventory list, to insure that much-needed items are not left behind. We learned this the hard way and it costs us many lost hours that could have been spent enjoying the Orlando sights.
3. Remember - do not store inhalers or pre-loaded epinephrine syringes in glove compartments which overheat quickly.
4. If you will need oxygen, arrange this with the airlines well in advance.
5. Individuals with acute asthma should wear a medical alert bracelet or necklace.
6. Will you be covered by your health insurance where you will be traveling? Is your health insurance information easy to access in an emergency?
7. Place a copy of your asthma action plan (which should include an emergency plan) in a protective plastic folder or sleeve and pack it where it is easy to reach.
8. If you or your child uses a peakflow meter or nebulizer, it should be marked with your name/address/cell phone number. Discuss the policy for nebulizer use with the airline before you leave. You may consider purchasing a very small portable nebulizer which can be re-charged in a car cigarette lighter and has a battery pack. In some areas these are available for rent from a medical equipment company.
Published On: June 20, 2006