Traveling with Asthma, Sinus Pain, and Allergies
It is spring/summer and many of you will start to do a bit more traveling. I used to travel all over the country as a management consultant and learned how to control my allergies on the road. Have you arrived at a holiday cottage or beach motel and when you smell all those mold and musty odors wonder whether you will survive the vacation? I have written a survival guide for traveling. If you plan to travel this summer, you will find a host of good tips.
More info may be found in our Traveling FAQ.
Traveling with allergies can be challenging, even at the best of times. As a former management consultant who spent her life on planes, and sleeping in badly ventilated hotel rooms, I know all about it. Waking-up congested, and with a headache is not the way any consultant wants to start the day. I am often asked how best to travel with allergies. Here are my battle-worn ways of making the most of a situation, that otherwise, is nearly guaranteed to make you sick.
Surviving an Airplane Trip with Allergies, Asthma, and Sinus
1. The air quality on airlines is drier, and therefore, can affect those with allergies or asthma. While all domestic flights are now smoke-free, many international flights are not. If traveling abroad, sit as far away from the smoking section as possible.
2. Those with food allergies should call ahead and order a special meal. Most airlines are very helpful in providing special dietary requirements.
3. The higher the altitudes, the less oxygen, so always carry your ingestible epinephrine. This is no time to leave it behind.
4. Avoid drinking caffeine, colas, and alcohol, as they dry out your nasal passages and can cause sinus pain.
5. Use a natural saline solution nasal spray on an hourly basis to keep nasal passages moist and sinus pain at bay. I recommend Breathe-Ease.
6. Severe asthma sufferers may need additional oxygen, and should call the airline ahead of time so they are prepared with oxygen paraphernalia. Be sure to keep your inhaler within easy reach in your carry-on bag.
7. For sinus control, drink lots of water for hydration. Sit in an aisle seat if this means more frequent trips to the bathroom.
8. Take along all medication you think you might need. If you’re susceptible to spontaneous sinus attacks, remember your nasal irrigator. For a review of the Dr. Grossan nasal irrigator, click here.
9. Suck on papaya enzymes or Clear-Ease.
Your Allergy friendly Car
I often start sneezing upon entering a car, especially when the air conditioner blows out dust or mold allergens into the air. Here are some tips for an allergy-friendly automobile.
1. Have your car detailed with all natural products.
2. Use a hepa vacuum to remove pollen, mite and pet allergens. Allergy Buyers Club recommends using the attachments to the Miele vacuum cleaner for this job.
3. Use a steam cleaner to steam-clean the upholstery and carpets. This gets rid of mold and dust mite allergen.
4. Air conditioners are a repository for all sorts of allergens. Spray your air conditioner with a dust and mold allergy removal spray. Filter Plus is available at Home Depot.
5. Keep your car windows closed in pollen and allergy season, and use your air conditioner, not an open window to cool down. Travel in “off hours” when exhaust fumes in the air are lower, and air quality is better.
6. When renting a car, specify a non-smoking car. This is helpful for asthma sufferers.
7. If you have asthma, get a portable nebulizer that plugs into your car battery.
Hotel Rooms – Make them Allergy free
1. Very few hotels have “green rooms” but it’s worth asking. Green rooms carry less allergen than traditional rooms. They are specially equipped with hardwood floors rather than carpets, blinds rather than drapes, hypoallergenic bedding, and allergy free dust mite covers.
2. Get a non-smoking room and if you are allergic to pets, a room that has not had pets stay in it.
3. Take a spray along to kill the mold and remove the dust in the air conditioning system. I recommend “Filter Plus”, available at Home Depot.
4. Ask that the air conditioner filter be changed before you arrive.
5. Hotel room a little dry? Throw a few wet towels around, or turn on the shower to fill-up the room with steam and keep your sinuses moist. Keep using your saline spray frequently. We don’t recommend asking the hotel for a humidifier – many of them only spray around ugly bacteria.
6. Allergic to dust mites? Take your own dust mite pillow covers with you. You might try taking your own allergy free pillow if you travel by car.
7. If you are allergic to mold, do not get a room near the swimming pool- it is likely to have a higher concentration of mold spores.
8. Ask the hotel to provide you with a hypoallergenic, feather free pillow.
9. Ask that the room not be sprayed with scented air freshening sprays before you arrive.
Vacation Homes and the Allergy sufferer
1.When getting away to the beach house, take all your natural cleaning materials along with you, plus your hepa vacuum, vapor steam cleaner, and air cleaner; beach houses are notoriously moldy. Beach houses are terrible places for those of us allergic to mold. Clean as soon as you arrive, the rest of your vacation will be much more comfortable.
2. Take a complete set of dust mite covers, your own pillows, and hypoallergenic blankets. Vacation homes frequently have bedding which should not see the light of day.
General Advice to live by for Allergy, Asthma, and Sinus sufferers who travel
1. If you are receiving immunotherapy shots for your allergies, get them before leaving, especially if you will be away for an extended period of time.
2. Remember to take allergy and asthma medications with you, and regularize them across different time zones.
Have a healthy time away from home!