Controlling severe asthma requires constant care and attention. This can be hard enough when you’re at home. So managing your asthma can be even more tough if you’re thinking about traveling.
Still, having severe asthma certainly doesn’t mean you can’t travel. By preparing ahead of time, you can see the world and fulfill any travel commitments without putting yourself at risk.
Consider the following eight steps you need to take before your travels. Be sure to discuss your plans with your doctor too.
1. Do some research on the climate and environment based on your triggers
When you have asthma, it goes without saying that you’ll want to avoid anything you know will trigger it — whether that’s fragrances, cigarette smoke, pet dander, or something else.
Still, other triggers may be unavoidable. Depending on the region you’re going to and the time of year, you may encounter pollen, mold, and ozone pollution. See if you can find out this information before you go. You may benefit from using an albuterol inhaler before exposure to these types of triggers. As well, there are other medications that may be helpful depending upon the type of asthma you have.
Cold, dry air can also irritate your airways by increasing inflammation and constriction. This is something to keep in mind if you’re booking a trip in a colder climate or at higher elevations.
2. Keep your medications with you at all times
In case of an asthma attack, be sure to have your rescue inhaler handy. You may also want to have a portable nebulizer with you in case you don’t have electricity. Keep long-term medications with you instead of leaving them at home. You may even consider taking your medicine with you in a carry-on bag if you’re flying, just in case your checked luggage gets lost.
3. Bring extra meds
It’s a good idea to bring extra meds in case you end up staying away from home longer than planned. This includes extra pills if you take leukotriene modifiers. You might even want to bring an extra inhaler. Your doctor can work with you to make sure you get the right number of doses during your stay.
4. Obtain a list of nearby medical facilities
When it comes to traveling, the last thing you want to think about is having an asthma attack. Still, you should have important medical information handy should a severe asthma attack arise.
If you’re traveling in the United States, you can call 911 and have an ambulance come help you. It’s also a good idea to know where the closest emergency room is to where you’re staying.
If you’re traveling outside of the United States, you’ll want to look up the protocol for getting emergency medical care where you’re staying. The availability of medical care can vary by country.
5. Consider packing your own bedding
While hotels and other hosts do their best to accommodate a variety of health concerns, it’s best to bring your own bedding to avoid asthma triggers, if dust mites, animal dander, or pollen is one of your triggers. Be sure to pack allergen-resistant pillows and mattress covers, as well as any blankets you want to have on hand.
6. Make a list
In the event of an emergency, you may not be able to relay information regarding your treatment plan to doctors and other medical staff. It’s helpful to make a list of your doctor’s name and contact information, insurance information, treatment plan, and medications you take on a regular basis. If you’re traveling with someone, make sure they have a copy of your list too.
7. Guard against illnesses while you’re away
First, make sure you’re up to date on any allergy shots you take, as well as immunizations, such as the flu shot. While you’re traveling, be extra mindful about handwashing and sanitation. Keeping yourself healthy and illness-free is an important preventive measure for severe asthma attacks. Upper-respiratory infections, for example, can rapidly evolve into asthma-related complications.
8. Talk to your doctor before you leave
See your doctor for a quick checkup before you leave town, especially if you’re going on an extended trip. They may want to do a physical and check your breathing before you go. As a rule of thumb, book your appointment with your doctor at the same time you book your travel arrangements — this way, you won’t forget.