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Give Yourself a Gift of Asthma-Friendly Holidays

(December 22, 2015)

The holidays can be stressful for anyone. But those with chronic lung diseases like asthma must take extra precaution when planning their holiday fun. Asthma can be treated and managed day-to-day, but during the holidays, special events and changes of routine, such as travel, parties, different sleeping environments or sitting around a crackling fire can trigger asthma symptoms.

With a little help, you can alleviate the worry and enjoy an asthma-friendly holiday season!

  • Traveling with Medication: Whether traveling by car, train, boat or plane, keep quick-relief and controller medications in a carry-on for ease of access in case your travel plans are delayed or a change in environment causes asthma symptoms.
  • Prescription Back-Up: If you’re traveling far from home, remember to bring an extra written prescription in case your asthma medication is lost or destroyed. Also, remember to bring your insurance card and healthcare provider contact information in case of an emergency.
  • Smokefree Environments: If you’re staying with family or friends over the holidays, ask to stay with those who don’t smoke. If a smokefree home is not available, choose a hotel that is completely smokefree. 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 without the fire.
  • Bedding: 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.
  • Managing Stress: 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 healthy and get plenty of rest.

To learn more about asthma, or for a refresher course, take the American Lung Association's free online learning course Asthma Basics. This self-paced learning tool covers asthma triggers and how to identify and reduce them. It also includes action plans for when flare-ups do happen, how to respond to a breathing emergency, asthma medication tutorials, and an asthma management plan template.

More asthma information and resources can also be accessed through the American Lung Association Lung HelpLine at 1-800-LUNGUSA.

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