Everyone loves to travel and see new places! Asthmatics are no different. But traveling and visiting new places poses certain risks and problems. But with proper care and attention to detail, asthmatics can safely travel and enjoy without asthma playing spoilsport!
What are the risks involved in travel for asthmatics?
1. Weather and temperature changes can precipitate asthma
2. A new place might have high pollen counts.
3. Hotel rooms can have high dust mite concentration and fungal spores in carpeting.
4. Eating out during vacations can cause food allergy or flare-up of asthma.
5. One tends to become careless about medications when on a holiday!
So what should one be careful about when traveling?
a) Planning before travel
1. Meet your asthma specialist. Discuss whether your asthma is optimally controlled. Take the medicines regularly.
2. Carry a written asthma plan devised by your doctor
3. Carry your doctor’s contact number and permission to call if required!
b) Precautions during travel
1. Air travel needs certain special precautions. The air in aircraft is very dry so drink plenty of water. Nasal decongestants before the flight may be required.
2. The cabin of an aircraft is decompressed. Effectively, the oxygen concentration in the plane is that which is there at an altitude of 6-8 thousand feet (say at Nainital). Some amount of difficulty in breathing is expected.
3. Carry your medicines in your hand baggage so that chances of losing them are minimized. Carry extra quantities.
4. Keep prescriptions along with the medicines. Some countries are very fussy about this in terms of either drug or security concerns.
5. When traveling by car keep windows rolled up to minimize pollen exposure.
6. If your asthma is severe or uncontrolled you may need to carry a nebulizer or spacer-inhaler combination for emergency use.
c) Precautions at destination
1. Select the hotel room carefully- it should have a hard floor (not carpeted) and it should be sunny and airy.
2. If you are allergic to certain food items be very careful. Mention that to the hotel and kitchen. Inadvertent contamination in the kitchen is very common. Read food labels carefully.
3. Scuba diving is very unsafe for asthmatics. Don’t do it. Snorkeling is ok.
4. Regularity if medication is necessary.
Bon voyage and safe travel!