Reflecting on In-Room Asthma Triggers
Last updated: August 2023
Most recently, the Discovery Plus show I got sucked into watching every episode of was Hotel Impossible, in which host and hospitality expert, Anthony Melchiorri, goes to hotels that are struggling and requesting his help and helps to fix their wide variety of issues. These include the usual suspects one would expect on a show like this - noise, bedbugs, bad restaurants/spas/pools/amenities, as well as properties that should have been literally condemned long ago. It also shows those that are less expected, such as hotels that do not have working fire prevention systems (...seriously).
Anthony repeatedly makes several points all of us reading this site can appreciate: he is on the lookout for issues affecting people with asthma and allergies, and he lets you know it.
Hotel asthma triggers
I have had many rough nights in hotels with my asthma, but many great ones, too. Some of the triggers like carpets collecting dust mites, down bedding, and the potential for mold in hotels are fairly obvious--even if they should not be there!
When entering a room Anthony runs a finger or tissue along high-up surfaces, like picture frames, checking for dust - he is not just finding dusty TVs and writing DUST in the coating of dust! He checks for mold in the rooms, such as on wallpaper and bathroom tiles, as well as in checking pillows for discoloration. This can be caused by the accumulation of allergens (including dust mites) as well as absorbing or harboring skin cells, sweat, and moisture, possibly leading to mildew.
Other asthma triggers brought up by Anthony on Hotel Impossible never crossed my mind. For example he somehow finds a filter to pull out of the in-room climate control unit to check if they have been changed or cleaned recently, or if they are clogged and forcing old dust and pollutants back into the room. More than once, he has found some pretty scary filters!
In another episode, a cockroach ran across the lobby in the middle of the day, in plain sight! While in that case I do not think he mentioned that they are an asthma trigger, just unsightly, but... they are an unsightly asthma trigger! And, while a cockroach is not an animal exactly, Anthony - who is allergic to cats -left 1 hotel lobby to go take allergy medicine in his car after finding the owners' cat present in the lobby, triggering an allergic reaction! Additional cleaning after visitors with pets came up as well--which, when you really think about it, should probably just be the standard to clean by anyways!
The asthma trigger Hotel Impossible missed
One trigger I never saw Anthony bring up (in my binge-watch recollection) was fragrances: this is often a challenge of mine at hotels. There are 2 hotels in particular that come to mind for me, one in Walnut Creek, California that had a strong fragrance permeating the whole hotel. I got my room changed which did not help, and I survived, but had I watched this show before that point I probably would have had them move me to a new hotel!
The other hotel in San Diego, California, had a signature scent piped into the lobby. It did not have the allure they were going for. Instead of making me want to stay in the lobby and hang out, feeling welcomed, I got out of there as fast as I could every single time! Fortunately, there was a beautiful outdoor pool to hang out at.
And, in this category is also the stuff in the bathroom. I tend to only use the hotel-provided hand soap, though sometimes I will pack that, too! There have been a few hotels with overly scented soap, but most of the time, I have found the places I have stayed to have low-fragrance hand soaps available...or ones that just smell like soap. What a concept!
Seeing hotels in a different way
Since watching this show, I saw my last hotel stay a bit differently. I did not check the climate control unit for a filter, but I observed the staff's attentiveness a bit differently. I thought differently about the style of curtains and how easily they could be cleaned, washed or dusted. Most hotels I have stayed at do not have down bedding as a default anymore, but if they did, it is possible they might have down-alternative bedding and could re-make your bed on request.
I have also noticed some hotels with bookable allergy/asthma-friendly rooms, generally at some larger chains. I have never stayed in one of these, but I would be curious if the accommodations would make a difference when it comes to asthma symptoms!
What hotel amenities can make or break your hotel stay with asthma? What potential asthma triggers do you check your hotel room for? Share in the comments!
How often do you experience a shortage in your asthma medication?