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Asthma and COPD travelling tips

Health | 2/4/2020
Asthma and COPD travelling tips

If you have asthma or COPD your goal is to live a happy and symptom-free life. That, of course, includes enjoying stress-free holidays. Considering the current outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19) the best advice is to follow the information and instructions given by national and international authorities which mostly advice to avoid any unnecessary travelling. When the COVID-19 pandemic is over and you are able to plan and travel normally, this article provides you with practical tips how to make your journey enjoyable and relaxing even if your have asthma or COPD.  

A good place to start preparing for your next big adventure is to make sure that all your documents, insurances and medications are up to date. This gives you time to refill your prescription medications and get all your jabs in advance. It can also mean taking a flu shot if you’re due for one and checking if any other vaccinations might be required for your destination.

While you’re fully enjoying your holidays, your preventer inhaler shouldn’t take a vacation. If you know you may have a risk for an asthma attack or flare-up at your destination, then keeping also a reliever inhaler on hand could be a wise move during your travels.

Ready to take off?

According to the British National Health Service, NHS, if you tend to get out of breath even when resting, the reduced air pressure and lower oxygen levels during flights may make you feel more breathless than usual. So, for your own comfort, it’s worth paying a visit to your doctor before you fly. The good news is that most airlines will allow you to use extra oxygen on board, if your doctor’s assessment indicates a need. All you have to do is contact your airline and arrange it in advance.

Your inhalers are also safe on planes and can be packed with any other medicines in a clear plastic bag in your hand luggage with a copy of your prescription handy for security staff.

Know your triggers

If you know your own asthma triggers and have flexibility, why not plan travel destinations and activities where you limit your exposure? People with asthma and COPD generally thrive in moderately humid and warm weather, so heading off to the Mediterranean should be welcome news for your lungs.

Although, if spring is in the air and pollen is your trigger, staying clear of the peak pollen season will be a better choice. Similarly, if pollution is your trigger, consider steering away from a high-density city like Beijing in the worst season and visit other places instead.

The same goes for intense cold or high altitudes. If you have the luxury of time, then why not avoid hiking the foothills during winter. If you want to brave the deep blue sea, you might also look into leisure activities like scuba diving. This used to be out of the question for asthmatics, due to a theoretical higher risk of diving related disorders, but a new study now indicates much less risk than earlier thought.

When choosing a hotel or temporary residence, ask in advance for a smoke-free room, some places even offer allergy -friendly rooms. You could even consider packing your own allergy-proof pillow or pillowcase to protect against dust mites.

If you have doubts about managing your asthma on your holiday, you can always talk with your doctor before leaving for your trip. Saving the contact details of a local healthcare facility at your destination could also be good for your peace of mind.

Then, with all your preparations complete and your worries packed away along with your asthma symptoms, you’ll be free to focus all your attention and energy on the call to adventure. As you set off, inspire yourself with the words of renowned American essayist Agnes Repplier, who said, “The impulse to travel is one of the hopeful symptoms of life.”


By Laurel Colless

Photo by iStock

 

References:

Global Strategy for Asthma Management and Prevention; Published by Global Initiative for Asthma, 2018 https://ginasthma.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/wms-GINA-2018-report-V1.3-002.pdf

European Respiratory Review 2016 25: 214-220; Can asthmatic subjects dive? Yochai Adir, Alfred A. Bove  https://err.ersjournals.com/content/25/140/214

NHS: Living with Asthma. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/asthma/living-with/

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