Gearing up for the Holidays with Asthma
While the holidays are stressful for everyone, those with chronic lung diseases like asthma must take extra precaution when planning their holiday fun. While there is no cure for asthma, it can be managed and treated so that those with asthma can live normal and healthy lives. But large events outside of your normal routine – like the holidays – can trigger asthma through a variety of activities like traveling, different sleeping environments, and holiday activities like sitting around the fireplace.
Below are a few holiday tips for the 24.6 million Americans that live with asthma. (And if you have any specific questions or concerns about traveling this holiday season, consult your healthcare provider or contact the American Lung Association’s Lung HelpLine at 1-800-LUNGUSA.)
A few holiday tips
If traveling far from home, make sure to remember to bring an extra written prescription in case asthma medication is lost or destroyed, and insurance card and healthcare provider contact information in case of an emergency.
Traveling with medication
Whether traveling by car, train, boat or plane, keep quick-relief and controller medications in a carry-on for ease of use if travel plans are delayed or a change in environment causes asthma symptoms.
If staying with family or friends over the holidays, ask to stay with those who don’t smoke. If a smoke-free home is not available, choose a hotel that is completely smoke-free. Cigarette and cigar smoke can travel through doorways, cracks in walls, electrical lines, plumbing, and ventilation systems, and cause asthma flare-ups.
Fireplaces and candles
Gathering around the wood-burning fireplace may be part of the season, but the smoke can trigger an asthma episode. And scented candles have the double-whammy of extra smoke in the home as well as strong odors that can cause asthma symptoms. To feel the glow of the season, go faux and enjoy electric fireplaces and candles that flicker with the help of a battery.
Bring a special pillowcase or mattress cover to reduce dust mite exposure. Hypoallergenic “sleep sacks” are designed to use when staying in hotels to protect those with asthma from allergens.
With all this and more, the emotions of the holidays alone can aggravate asthma symptoms. Stress, excitement, anger, crying, and even laughing really hard can trigger an asthma episode. Practice deep breathing to help reduce stress and excitement, and try to stick to a regular exercise routine, eat healthily, and get plenty of rest. Take the American Lung Association’s free online learning course Asthma Basics for more information on asthma triggers and how to identify and reduce them, action plans when flare-ups do happen, how to respond to a breathing emergency, asthma medication tutorials, and an asthma management plan template.
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