Heading Home For The Holidays
For most, the holiday season is full of excitement and wonder. For asthmatics, it can be a time of fear and anxiety. The holiday season is jam packed full of triggers for people with asthma. These can range from allergies to lung irritants to anxiety, all which can send us asthmatics into a flare up. Here are some tips for traveling:
Whether you are traveling by car, train or airplane it’s very important to do your homework ahead of time. Even if you are traveling to a place that you have been dozens of times before. Check weather forecasts, air quality reports and pollen counts (if you have allergic asthma). Especially if you live in a warmer climate and are traveling to somewhere where it is cold and snows or vice versa. If you are religious and plan to attend any church services etc at a place you haven’t been before I would recommend calling ahead and ask if they use any incense or other strong scents during any of the holiday services. Inquire if they have any “scent free” zones where people can sit & still enjoy the services without having to be exposed to serious asthma triggers. It has happened to me several times where strong scents during holiday services have set my asthma off causing me to have to leave. Try to think of as many “what if” scenarios that you might encounter during your travels so you can be as prepared as possible. Also research & make note of the closest hospitals and/or urgent care canters in the unlikely event that you might need to seek medical treatment.
Have an escape plan
If you are planning on staying with friends or family you never know if something in their home could be a trigger to your asthma. Anything from pets, air fresheners, fireplaces, laundry detergent that the sheets are washed in, and the list goes on & on. Not to mention that every one has different triggers. What is a major trigger for me might not trigger you at all. If you find your asthma being set off by where you are staying you might need to consider getting a room at a nearby hotel. It is also important to make sure ahead of time that your family or friends know about your asthma (if they don’t already know) so they can hopefully make preparations for you. Personally, I used to struggle with asking people to make exceptions for me because I didn’t like being a bother to anyone. But then I realized this is my health and I needed to speak up for myself to hopefully avoid any asthma flare ups that could have been avoided if I would have just held an open line of communication. You’d be surprised how understanding people can be especially when they are your family or friends. It’s also super important not to “suffer” or “stick it out” because you don’t want to upset anyone or hurt any feelings. People will understand if you need to get out of an environment if you are struggling with your asthma.
Don’t forget your meds! Pack like a pro
While this may seem like an obvious reminder, there have been times when I have forgotten my back up meds when I’m traveling. I should especially know better since I am a Respiratory Therapist. But I’m human and sometimes us humans are forgetful! I am a big time list maker and I tend to make some pretty elaborate packing lists when I’m preparing for any sort of trip. It helps me not forget the essentials and I don’t cross the item off until it is physically in my suitcase. Don’t forget to pack your back up medications. I always make sure to have two rescue inhalers in two different places when we are on vacation. You just never know if one might get misplaced or lost. If you have a nebulizer that you only use when your asthma is badly flaring up, definitely bring it. Again you never know when you might need it. It’s better to be over prepared than under prepared. If you are traveling to a colder climate than you are used to make sure to pack a scarf or two. When outdoors wear it over your mouth and nose to help warm up the air that you are breathing as cold temperatures can be a big trigger for many asthmatics.
Don’t let asthma stop you from thoroughly enjoying the holidays. As long as you are prepared and aware of your surroundings you can have a wonderful holiday season with your loved ones and friends.