Summer holidays are often hallmarked by getaways to exciting new places or family favourite destinations. But for the 2.3 million Australians with asthma, travel can present dangerous, even life-threatening, challenges.
“Summer travel brings exposure to different asthma triggers, and with a relaxed and carefree holiday mindset, it can be easy to let asthma management lapse,” said Kristine Whorlow, Chief Executive Officer of the National Asthma Council Australia.
“It’s essential to be prepared and to plan ahead when travelling, to ensure puffers or other medicines are taken with you, even when rushing off to visit friends and relatives,” Ms Whorlow advised.
Ms Whorlow said the change in environment while away from home could also trigger asthma and allergy symptoms.
“When packing routine medication, think about what other challenges you or your child might encounter while travelling or staying away from home, such as dusty or mouldy summer houses, or exposure to new pollens. It might be a good idea to take hay fever tablets or a nasal spray too.”
The National Asthma Council Australia recommends completing the following checklist to keep asthma at bay this summer:
- Check in with your GP before you leave: Even if you haven’t been experiencing symptoms, it is a good idea to make sure your lungs are as healthy as possible before leaving home. This is also a great opportunity to get a copy of your prescription and help avoid the hassle of trying to get one on holiday.
- Make sure you have an action plan: Develop or update your asthma action plan with your GP so you are ready to act if your asthma starts to flare up. The plan can also be stored on your smartphone and easily accessed via the Asthma Buddy iPhone and Android app. Visit www.nationalasthma.org.au for more information.
- Have a reliever puffer on hand when travelling: Make sure it is easily accessible, for example by keeping it in your hand luggage when flying. Store the puffer somewhere cool – they work best in conditions less than 25 degrees so avoid keeping it on the windowsill, in the glove box or out in the sun.
- Be vigilant with the asthma routine: In the excitement of travelling it is easy to let your asthma routine slip. However it is important to schedule time to take your preventer inhaler as normal even in the midst of holiday activities.
- Check your travel insurance to see if it covers asthma and whether there are any restrictions. It is usually under ‘pre-existing conditions,’ however policies vary so contact your insurance advisor for advice.
- Choosing a place to stay: Ask if they offer low allergen rooms. If that’s not possible, request a smoke-free room.
Visit www.nationalasthma.org.au for more information.