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On the Road with Allergies & Asthma

Allergy and Asthma image

For millions of Americans with allergies & asthma, summer travel concerns extend far beyond rising gas prices and airline security waits. The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology estimates that more than 20 million Americans have asthma and 50 million have allergies. Those traveling this summer will face unique challenges.

“Vacations bring people outdoors to explore new sights or enjoy the weather. But more time outdoors means increased exposure to common allergy and asthma triggers – including pollen, mold spores, stinging insects, and air pollution,” says Estelle Levetin, PhD, FAAAAI.

“Vacations bring people outdoors to explore new sights or enjoy the weather. But more time outdoors means increased exposure to allergy & asthma triggers.”

The resulting reactions – which can be bothersome or, at worst, life-threatening – can quickly sap the enjoyment from summer travel experiences. “But with proper preparation, you can minimize your risk of a severe allergic reaction or asthma attack,” Dr. Levetin says. The AAAAI recommends people with allergic disease take the following steps to ensure their vacations are fun, not frustrating:

  • Air out vehicles before a lengthy road trip, and travel with the windows raised. Plan to drive in the early morning or late evening to avoid high midday air pollution levels and idling traffic.
  • When traveling by airplane, pack all medications according to federal security regulations. Food allergic people should bring snacks onboard and avoid eating unlabeled airline food.
  • Request allergy-free hotel accommodations, which can include special rooms, pillows, and linens.
  • Visit your doctor before the trip to discuss your treatment questions.
 

Find more tips for summer travel with allergies & asthma at AAAAI.org.

This article was originally published in Coping® with Allergies & Asthma magazine, May/June 2009.