Surviving the Holidays - A Guide for Those Living With Asthma

(December 10, 2012)

When it comes to the holidays, we all can use a few tips on dealing with the hustle and bustle of the season. If you or a loved one have asthma, navigating holiday travel, family commitments and different environments can be tricky. The American Lung Association has tips to help you prepare and keep your asthma in control. Traveling with Asthma With a little preparation your holiday travel can be more asthma-friendly. Create an Asthma Travel Pack to ensure you have all of the medicines and instructions you need in one, easily accessible place. When creating your Asthma Travel Pack consider including:

  • Copies of your Asthma Action Plan
  • An extra written prescription in case medication is lost or destroyed
  • Insurance card and healthcare provider contact information
  • Both quick-relief and controller medications (make sure there is enough to get you through your stay, and extra in case you get held-over unexpectedly)
  • A spacer or chamber to use with inhaler

If your child is traveling without you, ensure his/her caregivers have access to the Asthma Travel Pack and understand its contents, how to follow the instructions on the Asthma Action Plan, administer medicines, and know what to do during an asthma episode.

  • Prepare for changes in temperature – hot and humid or dry and cold air can be a trigger for some with asthma. Try to stay indoors if it’s hot or humid outside, and wrap a scarf around your nose and mouth if it’s very cold.
  • Be aware of potential new asthma triggers - different indoor and outdoor environments may expose you to unexpected triggers or allergens. Learn more by visiting the American Lung Association asthma trigger page.
  • Emotions can run high during the holiday season. Stress, excitement, anger, crying, and even laughing really hard can trigger an asthma episode. Practice deep breathing to help reduce stress and excitement. Try to stick to your regular exercise routine, eat healthy and get plenty of rest.

Airline Travel With Asthma
According to TSA.Gov, nebulizers are permitted in both check-in and carry-on luggage. It’s best to pack your nebulizer, quick-relief and other asthma medicines in your carry-on, even during short flights. You never know when you may get stuck for a long period of time on the plane, or if your suitcase will get lost.

Choosing a Place to Stay
Whether you are staying in a hotel or at grandma’s house, remember that you may be exposed to the same triggers found in your home, and possibly new triggers.

  • Request a Smoke-Free Environment: Choose a hotel that is smoke-free when possible. Otherwise, stay in a non-smoking room on a non-smoking floor. If you are staying with family or friends, try to stay with those who don’t smoke or ask them to smoke outside.
  • Go Fragrance Free: If strong odors trigger your asthma, ask for a hotel room without scented soaps, lotions or cleaning products. If you are a houseguest, ask your host not to burn candles or incense, or use air fresheners.
  • Staying Warm: Gathering around the fireplace or warming your home with wood-burning stoves are part of the season, but their smoke can trigger an asthma episode. Gas space heaters can also worsen asthma symptoms.
  • Reduce Exposure to Pets: If pet dander is a trigger, ask for a hotel room that has not housed pets. If those hosting you have pets, ask that the pet stay out of the room you are staying in to reduce your exposure. Wash your hands after touching the pet to remove any dander.
  • Bring Your Own Bedding: Consider bringing dust mite covers for pillows and mattresses to reduce dust mite exposure. Hypoallergenic “sleep sacks” are designed to use when staying in hotels to protect you from allergens, and can be purchased at stores that sell bedding.
  • Watch Out for Chlorine: Chlorine and other chemicals found in indoor and outdoor pools can trigger asthma. Before jumping in the deep end make sure the pool area is well ventilated and doesn’t have a strong odor.

The Enhancing Asthma Care Project in ______ is supported by Health Care Service Corporation’s Healthy Kids, Healthy Families Initiative and lead by the American Lung Association in _________. This joint initiative aims to work with 15 clinics that serve high-risk populations to improve pediatric asthma care to an estimated 30,000 children.