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Travel Tips

How to Control Asthma and Food Allergies When Away From Home


Traveling With Asthma


  • Certain nebulizers can also be used with a 12-volt DC (cigarette lighter) power adapter. This is important for many asthma sufferers, so don't forget your adapter on those car trips! National Allergy has several portable nebulizers like the PARI Trek-S and the Comp Air Elite that have optional DC adapters.
  • Asthmatics should always bring a peak flow meter to monitor their breathing zones.
  • Carry all medications, including emergency meds like antihistamines and epinephrine, in an on-board bag or purse in case your luggage should get lost. Also bring prescription refill information just in case. When traveling abroad, leave medications in their original containers so customs officials can identify them.
  • As an asthma sufferer, you should be aware of your treatment schedule and calculate time changes into your medication routine if applicable. You may also want to invest in a battery-operated compressor for treatments on the go. The MicroAir is an incredibly portable unit that weighs only 6-ozs. including the 2 "AA" batteries it runs on so it will fit in almost any purse or tote bag. The MicroAir is also a great option for foreign travel if you don't have a 220V adapter or electrical outlets are scarce.
  • Air can get thin at 35,000 feet and this can irritate some respiratory conditions. According to the American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology, no traveler can be refused supplemental oxygen, but you need to arrange for such a provision in advance with the airline.
  • Camping, mountain biking and other physical activities are okay for most asthma sufferers; however, they should be done with the careful monitoring of your breathing zones (peak flow measures). Also be cautious when participating in activities like hiking and skiing that are in higher, cooler elevations. Thinner air means less oxygen is available and cold air can sometimes trigger an asthma attack.
  • Scuba diving is potentially hazardous for asthmatics so definitely check with your doctor first, but you can still enjoy marine wildlife by snorkeling in surface waters.


Traveling With Food Allergies


Delegates at the March 2004 meeting of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology were presented with data showing that food allergies are now believed to affect 1 in 25 (or 11 million) Americans. The study, co-sponsored by the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network, also showed that those with seafood allergies more than double those with an allergy to peanuts. One might think it would be the other way around since we hear about peanut allergy so often, but that is probably due to the fact that peanuts are used so often as an ingredient in foods.

With sufferers in the millions, food allergies are a growing concern. Any traveler with food allergies should know exactly what their triggers are and be vigilant about finding out about ingredients, additives and preparation methods. There are too many documented instances of a food allergy sufferer assuming a restaurant or airplane meal is free of their allergen trigger and the next thing they know they are having an anaphylactic reaction. Airlines and restaurants are more responsive than ever to food allergy sensitivities, but you should still take all possible precautions.

  • If prescribed, carry your epinephrine (EpiPen) at all times and be sure you and others how to use it if needed.
  • Make airlines aware of your allergic sensitivities when booking your flight. Some airlines will serve entirely different snacks on flights where a peanut allergic person is present.
  • Bring your own food. This goes for airline flights and road-trips alike. It never hurts to have food with you that you know is safe to eat.
  • Be aware that airplane food is purchased from vendors who may or may not disclose ingredients, so flight personnel probably do not know if these meals contain your allergy trigger.
  • If you are a peanut or tree nut allergic person (or the parent of one) take extra cleaning precautions on planes, buses and trains to ensure that no nut residue is leftover on seats, arm rests and tray tables. By the way, we've found a delicious substitute for peanut butter called Sun Butter you might want to consider.
  • When traveling overseas, learn the local words and/or phrases to communicate your allergy, or have a native-speaking friend write it down for you to show restaurant and hotel personnel.
  • Consider spending some time at the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network site as there is a wealth of excellent information for food allergy sufferers.



Article Quick Read
  • Certain nebulizers, like the PARI Trek-S and Comp Air Elite, can be used with a 12-volt DC adapter.
  • Carry all medications in an on-board bag or purse and bring along prescription refill information.
  • The MicroAir is a portable, battery-operated compressor that weighs only 6-oz.
  • Monitor your breathing when doing physical activities and remember that high elevations can impact some respiratory conditions.
  • Scuba diving is potentially hazardous for asthmatics.
  • Food allergies are now believed to affect 1 in 25 Americans. If you are one of those people, know your triggers and be cautious when traveling.
  • When traveling, carry your EpiPen at all times, make airlines aware of your allergic sensitivities, bring your own food and, if abroad, learn local words for your allergy.