Send Your Allergy & Asthma Symptoms Packing
And Enjoy a Healthy, Happy Summer Vacation
Summer vacation. It conjures up visions of relaxation, sports, sunny days, perhaps sand and water, or woodlands. For individuals and families with allergies & asthma though, it means extra thought and preparation before “the good times roll.” As we head full tilt into summer, here are some common sense – but commonly missed – suggestions for a healthy vacation.
Take with you a detailed list of medications showing prescription refill number, prescribing physician, and dosage. (Each medication’s original label should have all the needed information.) Pack the needed quantities of medications, and if possible, pack a backup quantity to avoid being caught short. Be sure to pack your medication in your carry-on luggage in case checked luggage is lost.
Be sure to bring an emergency, insect-sting epinephrine injection kit if you or someone in your family has this form of hypersensitivity. Include with your medications a topical hydrocortisone cream and antihistamine (prescription medication if available, or an over-the-counter brand previously used with good results).
If someone with asthma is using a peak flow meter, be sure to bring it along on your vacation, with the chart that is used to record results. If you use a nebulizer to deliver antiasthma medication, it should not be left at home when going on vacation. Be sure that if traveling abroad, you have an electrical current converter for the nebulizer. For campers and others who will be spending vacation periods in “the rough,” portable nebulizers powered by your car’s power outlet are available.
To protect against dust mites, it may be wise to pack your own allergy-proof pillow or mattress casings. People with acute asthma and allergic conditions should consider wearing a medical alert necklace or bracelet at all times.
Insuring Healthcare Availability on
Check the extent and limitations of your medical insurance policies before leaving the country or your state. Know in advance whether your plan or group will cover physician and hospital visits away from its operating territories.
To protect against dust mites, it may be wise to pack your own allergy-proof pillow or mattress casings.
When you know your vacation destination, get recommendations from your physician for physicians in that area, or contact the local state medical society at the destination for recommendations on area physicians. In relatively populated areas, ask for several potential healthcare providers, to allow for comparisons. You can also contact the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (aaaai.org, 414-272-6071) or the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (acaai.org, 800-842-7777) to find an allergy or asthma specialist at your destination.
If your vacation takes you to a foreign land, you might consider contacting the International Association for Medical Assistance to Travelers. For a low-cost donation to this nonprofit organization, you can receive a directory of English-speaking physicians worldwide who have trained in the U.S., Canada, or the United Kingdom. It can also provide forms for your own clinical records, immunization information for specific countries, and worldwide climate charts. For further details call, 716-754-4883 or visit iamat.org.
Sensible Behaviors and Actions
During the hot weather season, people with allergies & asthma should drink plenty of fluids. Try to avoid exposure to tobacco smoke whenever possible. Request a hotel room that is nonsmoking and mold-free. For those prone to exercise-induced asthma, it may be a good idea to keep prescribed emergency medication on you at all times.
If you have food allergies, call ahead to order a special meal on the airplane. Or pack your own “safe” snacks. When eating out, ask your server if sulfites have been used as a food preservative. If so, find out whether special preparations without sulfite additives can be ordered. If eating out in a country where you don’t speak the language, have a warning note drafted in the local language that alerts restaurant staff to your allergy.
Prior to beginning a lengthy auto trip to your vacation spot, take appropriate measures to rid the vehicle’s ventilating and air conditioning system of mold and mildew. If you have questions about the primary allergens and pollen count in the area you are visiting, contact the local Chamber of Commerce. Or you can call the National Allergy Bureau at 414-272-6071 or visit aaaai.org/nab. In addition, the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America has a national network of educational support groups. There may be one in your destination area that could provide you with useful local information. Call 800-7-ASTHMA for support group contacts.
Source: Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, www.aafa.org
This article was originally published in Coping® with Allergies & Asthma magazine, May/June 2010.