On the road with allergies and asthma: coping tips
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Despite the high cost of fuel and long airline security lines, millions of summer travelers will be hitting the nation's roads and airports this summer for vacation. But for the seasonal allergy sufferer, traveling can produce unique obstacles and challenges, particularly in the summer.
"Vacations bring people outdoors to explore new sights or enjoy the weather. But more time outdoors means increased exposure to common allergy and asthma triggers, including pollen, mold spores, stinging insects and air pollution," Dr. Estelle Levetin, vice chair of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (AAAAI) Aerobiology Committee, said in a statement issued by the academy.
The resulting reactions, which can range from bothersome to life-threatening, can quickly take the fun out of a vacation. "But with proper preparation, you can minimize your risk of a severe allergic reaction or asthma attack," Levetin said.
Whether traveling by car, train, bus or plane, the AAAAI offers several simple steps to help allergy sufferers enjoy a reaction-free vacation.
When driving, turn on the air conditioner and air out the car for 10 minutes before a long road trip to get rid of allergens such as dust mites, indoor molds and pollen that are often found in the carpeting, upholstery and ventilation systems of vehicles.
The AAAAI also recommends traveling in the early morning or late evening to avoid high mid-day air pollution levels and heavy, idling traffic. Keep windows closed when driving to prevent pollen and other allergens from getting into the car.
If you're flying to your summer vacation destination, be sure to pack all allergy and asthma medications in your carry-on bag. And food allergic people should stay away from airline food and opt for snacks brought from home and carry an EpiPen in case of a severe reaction while in flight.
Using a saline nasal spray to keep your nasal passages moist is another good idea, because air in planes is very dry and can aggravate allergy symptoms, according to the AAAAI.
When staying in hotels, allergy and asthma suffers should request an allergy-proof room, which can include special rooms, pillows or linens, or ask for a room that is located in a dry, sunny area, away from the pool. Run the room air conditioner instead of opening the windows. Ask about the hotel's pet policy and request a room that is pet-free.
Avoid using the hotel closet or drawers if you are allergic to mold spores. These areas are great breeding grounds.
For more information on planning an allergy- and asthma attack-free summer vacation, visit www.aaai.org.