Whenever I leave home, it always feels like there are a thousand things I need to make sure I have with me. Realistically, there aren’t that many, but getting out the door with everything I need can sometimes feel like a challenge.

A few of those items are the normal ones: keys, cell phone, wallet. Then there are the asthma items. These don’t weigh much but carry a lot more mental weight.

Here are two asthma essentials I never leave home without as well as a few other items I make sure I have with me in certain situations.

1. My rescue inhaler

The number one item I never leave home without is my rescue inhaler. I usually put mine in the pocket of my jeans or in a little pouch that I clip onto my belt loop.

Forgetting my rescue inhaler at home causes me apprehension bordering on anxiety. Once, my mom had to bring it to me while I was at work. Another time, I forgot to bring it to my job at a day care, and my pharmacy had to deliver one to me.

Many of us with asthma feel weird when we’ve left home without our inhaler. Sometimes, not having an inhaler makes us more likely to fixate on our breathing and feel as if we might need it — even if we wouldn’t. It’s definitely a psychological thing, even if you carry your inhaler with you all the time.

2. My medical ID bracelet

Fortunately, my medical ID bracelet is easier to remember, as it’s a stainless steel tag attached to my Apple Watch. I’ve found it easier to remember to wear my medical ID bracelet if:

  1. I’m excited about it! My friend Heather made me a purple, beaded bracelet. Not only is it cute, but it’s made by a friend — double win. Triple win if you include the fact that it’s a medical bracelet.
  2. It’s 100 percent stainless steel, which means I don’t have to take it off when encountering water. For the most part, all of my medical ID bracelets fall into the stainless steel and ready-for-anything variety. This makes it easier to put it on and leave it on.

I’ve never been in a situation where I needed my medical ID bracelet, but it’s an easy step to take for protection in the event of an emergency. I do my best to not leave home without it on my wrist.

My wallet also contains a list of medications I’m currently taking. This makes it’s easier to hand to doctors who want to know what medications I’m on. This information is also accessible via the online profile codes engraved on my medical ID bracelets.

3. Other inhalers and medications

If I’m taking a bag with me, I’ll sometimes throw a couple more things in it. This can include:

  • other inhalers I’ll need later in the day depending how long I’m going out for and when my morning doses were
  • a spacer
  • a little pill box with an antihistamine or two in it, plus some over-the-counter pain relievers

The little pill box can fit in my tiny card-sized wallet, so it’s one less thing to think about.

4. Items when I’m traveling

The list gets a lot longer when I’m away from home and traveling. Of course, most of these items will live in my hotel room or wherever I’m staying.

My travel essentials include all of my backup rescue inhalers, backup medical ID jewelry, and antihistamines. I also include my three daily inhalers and prescription pills as well as backups of all of my medications, especially if I’m traveling outside of Canada.

When I travel or am away from home overnight, I also throw a portable nebulizer and medication in my bag, as well as a supply of prednisone in the event of a severe asthma exacerbation. Fortunately, I’ve only had to use the emergency prednisone once during my first trip to California, but was I ever glad I had it!

I also find it helpful to stash items in different places, whether these are daily carry items or travel ones, so you always have a backup at hand.

For instance, I fly with my “main” stash of inhalers, meds, and nebulizer in my carry-on bag. I put a second set of inhalers and other meds in my checked bag. Just make sure to check with your pharmacist if any of your medications need to be stored at a certain temperature.

On a day-to-day basis, I usually have a rescue inhaler on me and another one floating around in an outer pocket of my backpack.

Takeaway

While everyone’s asthma essentials may vary, one that everyone with asthma should probably carry is a rescue inhaler. For people with asthma who have severe allergies, their essentials might include antihistamines and an epinephrine auto-injector (EpiPen).

My essentials help me manage my asthma and be prepared in the case of an emergency. Even if it seems like you won’t need a backup rescue inhaler, it doesn’t hurt to pack one in your bag.


Kerri MacKay is a Canadian writer and ePatient owning asthma and ADHD. A former hater of gym class, she now has a bachelor’s degree in physical and health education from the University of Winnipeg. Kerri loves airplanes, T-shirts, cupcakes, and archery. Connect with her on Twitter @KerriYWG or KerriOnThePrairies.com.