When travelling with asthma and allergies, it’s important to plan and take steps to make your trip as smooth as possible. This may include:
- Discussing your condition with your doctor
- Packing necessary medications and
- Researching your destination for potential triggers
It is also important to prepare for emergencies such as an asthma attack or allergic reaction by always having emergency medical care available. It’s also a good idea to let the airline or other travel agency know about your situation so they can help you in an emergency.
What Is Asthma?
Asthma is a severe lung disease that makes breathing difficult. It is characterised by inflammation and narrowing of the airways. Asthma symptoms include:
- Chest tightness
- Shortness of breath
- Coughing, often late at night or early in the morning.
Asthma can be triggered by several variables such as:
- Air pollutants such as smoke, dust and chemical fumes
- Allergens such as pollen, mould, pet dander and dust mites
- Irritants, strong odours or perfume
- Changes in temperature or humidity
- Physical activity or exercise
- Viral or bacterial respiratory infection
- Certain medications, such as beta blockers and aspirin
It is important to note that different people can have different asthma triggers, and what triggers an asthma attack in one person may not affect another. Asthma symptoms can be managed effectively with proper treatment, which usually involves inhaling medications such as:
- Corticosteroids and
These medications help open the airways and reduce inflammation. Asthma can be controlled with the right treatment.
In some circumstances, preventing asthma symptoms may also involve using long-term controller medications. In extreme circumstances, quick medication, such as an emergency inhaler, may be needed.
Although asthma can be managed with the right medication, it is a chronic condition that requires ongoing attention and monitoring throughout a person’s life. For example, a rescue inhaler may be needed. Asthma can be controlled with proper management, but it is a lifelong condition that requires ongoing care and monitoring.
A first aid course is a great way to prepare for any medical emergency. This can be useful, especially if you or someone close to you suffers from an illness such as asthma.
Asthma can be a serious condition, and it is important to recognise the symptoms and respond appropriately. Contact a registered first aid provider to learn how to recognise and respond to these symptoms and provide proper care to someone having an asthma attack.
What Exactly Are Allergies?
Allergies are a common condition in which the immune system overreacts to certain substances, known as allergens, which are usually harmless to most people. Allergens can take many forms, such as:
- Pet dander
- Insect bites, etc.
When an allergen is introduced into the body, the immune system incorrectly recognises it as a threat and responds by releasing substances like histamine. These chemicals cause symptoms such as:
- Runny nose
- Itchy eyes and
- Skin rashes
Some people may also experience more serious symptoms, such as:
- Difficulty breathing,
- Nausea, and
Medication available without a doctor’s prescription or over-the-counter, such as the following, can be used to treat allergic reactions:
- Nasal sprays
In some cases, avoiding the allergen is the best way to manage symptoms. In some circumstances, preventing asthma symptoms may also involve using long-term controller medications.
In extreme circumstances, immediate medication, such as a rescue inhaler, may be needed. Although asthma can be managed with the right medications, it is a chronic condition that requires constant attention and monitoring throughout a person’s life. For example, a rescue inhaler may be needed.
Early detection and management of an asthma episode can lessen its intensity and lower the possibility of life-threatening consequences. Suppose the victim of an allergic reaction loses consciousness and you don’t have an EpiPen. In that case, you may need to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).
Knowing the symptoms of an allergic reaction will allow you to administer first aid and CPR more quickly if needed. It’s crucial to learn CPR from a licensed first aid expert and keep cool in a crisis.Knowing what to do and acting quickly during an allergic response can save a person’s life.
It is essential for anyone looking after children and young people to understand the procedures for performing CPR and the importance of being prepared in an emergency. The staff members in an education and care setting must be adequately trained in childcare first aid for CPR. If you want to learn more about childcare first aid, contact a reputable first aid provider.
Travel With Asthma Vs Travel With Allergy
Travelling with asthma and allergies requires careful planning and preparation to ensure travellers have a safe and comfortable vacation. However, there are some important differences to consider when preparing for each situation. When travelling with asthma, it is important to:
- Discuss your travel plans with your doctor and make sure your asthma is well controlled before you go.
- Pack all necessary medications, such as an inhaler, spacer, and a written prescription.
- Prepare for unexpected situations like an asthma attack by always carrying emergency medication.
- Inform the airline or other travel providers of your medical condition so that they can assist you in an emergency.
- Have an asthma action plan.
- Stay hydrated and get enough sleep.
When travelling with allergies, it is important to:
- Research your destination and be aware of potential triggers, such as high pollen counts or extreme temperatures.
- Carry enough medication for the entire trip and extra for emergencies.
- Carry a written copy of your prescriptions if you lose or run out of medication.
- Be prepared for unexpected situations and know what to do in case of an allergic reaction. Keep anti-allergy medicine such as antihistamines, nasal sprays, etc. Consult your doctor before travelling.
- Be aware of possible triggers in your destination.
- Avoid certain areas with potential triggers.
Both conditions require you to be aware of potential triggers at your destination and take steps to protect yourself, such as taking medications or avoiding certain areas. It’s best to see a doctor before you travel to discuss any concerns and develop a plan.
Can Allergies Get Worse When Travelling?
Travelling can be an exciting yet overwhelming experience, especially if you suffer from allergies. Being away from home and facing new environments and potential allergens can be intimidating. So, the question is, can allergies get worse while travelling? The answer is yes, and allergies can get worse while travelling. Following are some of the explanations for this:
- Allergies are sometimes worsened due to exposure to different allergens or climates: the environment you travel to may have different types of allergens than you are used to, such as different types of pollen, mould, or dust mites.
- This can cause your allergies to flare up, especially if you travel to areas with higher concentrations of allergens. Also, your allergies may worsen if you are used to a dry climate and go to places with high humidity.
- Travelling to areas with high pollen counts, high humidity, or temperatures different from normal can worsen your symptoms: For example, your symptoms can worsen if you are allergic to pollen and travel to areas with high pollen counts. Likewise, high humidity might make breathing difficult if you have asthma or another respiratory ailment
- Being in a new environment and changing diet or sleep schedules can also trigger symptoms: travelling to new places can cause stress and anxiety and can worsen allergy symptoms. Eating unfamiliar foods, being in a different time zone, and having a different sleep schedule can also affect your body and trigger symptoms
- Exposure to new allergens: When you travel to a new place, you may be exposed to different allergens that you are not used to, such as different types of pollen, mould, or dust mites. This exposure can cause an allergic reaction
- Aviation: The dry and circulating air on aeroplanes can dry out the nasal passages, making it easier for allergens to enter the body and worsen symptoms
- Lack of environmental control: When travelling, you may have different control over your environment at home, making it more difficult to avoid allergens and manage symptoms
- Lack of access to medications: When travelling, it can be difficult to obtain the same medications and treatments used at home, making symptom control even more difficult
Can You Go On A Plane With Allergies?
Yes, you can fly on an aircraft with allergies. Still, taking a few precautions to manage your symptoms and minimise your exposure to allergens is important. Some steps you can take are:
- Tell the airline about your allergies in advance: Many airlines have procedures to accommodate passengers with allergies, such as:
1. Special seating arrangements: Some airlines may allow passengers with allergies to choose seats that are further away from pets or have strong odours.
2. Meal plans: If you have food allergies, you can request special allergen-free meals. This requires advance notice, and some airlines will require at least 24 hours notice before departure.
3. Allergen-free zones: Some airlines may designate certain areas of the plane, such as certain rows or sections, as allergen-free zones for allergic passengers.
4. In-flight assistance: If you are travelling with a severe allergy, you can notify the airline in advance, and they will arrange special assistance, such as an adrenaline injection on the plane. It is important to inform the airline of your allergy at the time of booking or at least 48 hours before your flight so that they can make the necessary arrangements to accommodate your needs.
- Bring Your Snacks: If you have food allergies, it’s a good idea to bring your snacks to avoid exposure to allergens on the plane.
- Take your medications before boarding: Make sure you take all necessary medications to manage your symptoms.
- Pack allergy medications in your carry-on bag: Make sure your allergy medications are in your carry-on bag in case your checked baggage is lost or delayed.
- Choose a place away from pets or strong smells: If you are allergic to pets, try to choose a place as far away from pets as possible. Also, avoid seats near bathrooms if you’re sensitive to strong smells.
- Consult your doctor: If you suffer from severe allergies, you should consult your primary care physician before making travel plans to determine whether flying is safe.
Following these precautions can minimise your exposure to allergens during the flight and reduce the risk of a serious allergic reaction.
How Do People With Food Allergies Travel?
People with food allergies may need extra precautions to ensure they can eat safely while on the road. Here are some things people with food allergies can do when travelling:
- Research your destination: Before you travel, research what types of foods are common in your destination and see if there are restaurants or grocery stores that cater to people with food allergies.
- Pack your food: If travelling by car or train, you can pack your food for safe eating options.
- Tell the airline or hotel: If you’re flying or staying at a hotel, let them know about your food allergy in advance so they can make the necessary arrangements to accommodate your needs.
- Learn the language: Learn key phrases in the language of the country you’re visiting to communicate food allergies to servers and chefs.
- Carry emergency medical supplies: Always carry emergency medical supplies, such as an epinephrine shot or an antihistamine, in case you accidentally come into contact with allergens.
- Be Prepared for the Unexpected: Prepare for unexpected events like flight delays or restaurant closings by packing some non-perishable, allergy-friendly snacks.
- Carry a food allergy card for travel: When travelling with food allergies, it is essential to have a food allergy card that clearly defines your allergies in the language of the nation you visit.
By taking these steps, people with food allergies can help ensure they make safe food choices while travelling and reduce the risk of accidental exposure to allergens.
What Food Should You Pack If You Have a Milk Allergy and Food Intolerance?
- Non-Perishable Snacks: Pack dairy-free and safe snacks like nuts, seeds, dried fruit, granola bars, cookies and rice cakes.
- Meal Replacements: Bring some dairy-free and safe meal replacement bars or powders. Meal replacement bars and powders come in a wide variety, including those made from soy, pea, rice, hemp, and other plant-based proteins.
- Fresh vegetables and fruits: People who are lactose intolerant or have other food sensitivities can eat these without worry. Pack things like apples, carrots, celery or berries in a small cooler that are easy to carry around and eat on the go.
- Gluten-free products: Many gluten-free products are also dairy-free, so look for gluten-free bread, cookies, pasta and cereals that are safe to eat.
- Condiments and condiments: Pack dairy-free dressings and condiments such as olive oil, lemon juice and vinegar in small bottles to keep on hand and use as meal toppings.
- Self-catering: Bring a camping stove or portable stove to cook your meals so you can control the ingredients and cooking.
- Look for safe options in local cuisine: Many cuisines around the world offer foods that are naturally dairy-free, such as sushi, Thai curries and tamales, so look for these options when you eat out.
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions: When eating out, always ask about the ingredients used in the food and don’t be afraid to make special requests. It’s important to plan and make safe food choices.
Remember, it is always a good idea to consult a doctor or allergist for personal advice and guidance before travelling.
Food Allergy Cards For Travel In Australia
Food allergy cards for travel can be obtained from organisations in Australia that specialise in anaphylaxis and food allergies. Several examples include:
- Allergy & Anaphylaxis Australia: Food allergy cards are available from Allergy and Anaphylaxis Australia, which are printable from their website and can be downloaded. The cards give information about your particular allergies and are available in many languages.
- Anaphylaxis Australia: Personalised anaphylaxis emergency action plans, including food allergy cards that can be carried at all times, are free from Anaphylaxis Australia.
- Food Allergy Card Letter from your GP: A food allergy card or letter that explains your condition and lists your allergies may be available from your doctor or allergist, so it is a good idea to ask.
Allergy Cards For International Travel
An allergy card is a card or document that contains information about your allergies. It is a simple and quick way to let people know about your allergy, especially if you are travelling to a foreign country where the language is different.
These cards provide an easy and clear way to communicate allergies to others, such as restaurant servers, hotel staff, and doctors.
Here’s a more in-depth look at how the allergy card for travel works :
- Information to include: Allergy cards usually include information such as your name, the language you speak, and your specific allergies, along with any relevant medical information, such as whether you have an epinephrine auto-injector.
- Translations: Some allergy cards also include key phrases translated into the language of the country you’re visiting to make it easier to let others know about your allergy.
- Get an allergy card: You can get an allergy card from several online resources, and organisations specialising in allergy-related products, or create your own using a template and customise it for your needs.
You can get an allergy card from your GP or allergist in Australia. They will give you a doctor’s note detailing your allergy history and the need for emergency care or medication. The certificate can be given to any healthcare professional or first responder in an emergency.
The certificate must be updated for any new allergies or changes in existing allergies. Some Australian hospitals and health centres also provide allergy cards. It’s best to check with your GP or allergist to ensure you have the information you need if you need it.
- Carry multiple copies: It is a good idea to carry multiple copies of your allergy card with you and keep one in your wallet or purse for easy access in an emergency.
- Know the language: Besides carrying a card, it’s important to ensure you know how to communicate allergies in the local language and the local emergency services.
By carrying an allergy card, you can help ensure that others are aware of your allergies and can take the steps they need to prevent them. It can also be a lifesaver in an emergency.
Travelling With Medication That Requires Refrigeration
Travelling with asthma and allergy medications that require refrigeration can be more of a challenge. Still, with proper planning, it’s possible. You can take the following precautions to guarantee that your prescriptions will remain effective and safe while you are travelling:
- Pack medications in cooler bags with ice packs: This will help keep the medication at the right temperature during transportation.
- Check with your airline: Some airlines may allow ice packs to be brought on board with medication, but it’s best to check with them in advance to confirm their policies.
- Take your medication with you: If your luggage is lost or delayed, always put your medication in your carry-on rather than your checked baggage.
- Notify TSA: Notify TSA that your medication needs to be refrigerated, and they may ask your doctor for additional documentation.
- Consider hotels with refrigerators: If you’re staying in a hotel, consider booking a room with a refrigerator so you can safely store your medications.
- Create a backup plan: Create a backup plan in case medicines are lost or damaged, for example, to get new prescriptions from your local doctor or pharmacy.
These steps can help ensure that your asthma and allergy medications remain safe and effective. At the same time, you travel and reduce the risk of treatment interruptions.
What Is Anaphylaxis?
Anaphylaxis is a life-threatening form of an allergic reaction. Food, medication, insect venom, or latex can all trigger an allergic reaction in certain people. The following are some of the many possible signs of an allergic reaction:
- Symptoms such as wheezing, whistling, or trouble breathing pattern,
- Swelling of the face, lips, tongue, and throat, and a rapid heart rate or a dip in blood pressure
- Dizziness, lightheadedness, fainting, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhoea
Due to the rapid onset and progression of anaphylaxis, immediate medical intervention is required. When an allergic reaction occurs, the first line of defence is typically an epinephrine auto-injector, such as an EpiPen, which helps lessen the severity and stop the reaction from worsening.
Hospitalisation may be required if the condition is severe. Keep your EpiPen handy if you have ever had an allergic reaction, and inform anybody who asks about your situation.
The Risks Of Flying After Anaphylaxis
The risks of flying after anaphylaxis are a serious concern for many people. Depending on the severity of the reaction, it can lead to severe breathing difficulties, shock and even death. The following are some examples of such risks that need to be mitigated:
- Risk of Recurrence: If a person has had an allergic reaction in the past, there is a chance that it will recur during the flight. This risk can be reduced by carrying emergency medication, such as an EpiPen, and having an allergy action plan.
- Changes in cabin pressure: Aeroplane cabin pressure can worsen anaphylaxis symptoms. This is especially dangerous for people allergic to peanuts or other aeroallergens that may be on the plane.
- Limited Access to Medical Care: In the event of an allergic reaction, in-flight medical care may be limited. Aeroplanes usually carry only first aid supplies and may not have a doctor or other medical personnel on board.
- Inability to avoid allergens: People with allergies may be unable to avoid exposure to allergens while flying. This can be especially dangerous if the allergen is difficult to avoid, such as peanuts or other food allergens.
- Difficulty communicating: In an emergency, a person may have difficulty communicating their allergies and treatment needs to the crew or other passengers. In this case, carrying an allergy card containing information about your allergies may be helpful.
- Long-haul flights: Long-haul flights increase the risk of allergic reactions due to prolonged exposure to allergens and the stress of flying.
Before flying, you should consult an allergist or family doctor and inform the airline about your allergy and any necessary precautions. This will help ensure access to appropriate medical care in an emergency.
Travelling With A Risk Of Severe Allergic Reaction
Travelling with severe allergies can be a scary experience, whether it’s to pollen, peanuts, shellfish, or any other allergen. For anyone with a severe allergic reaction, it is important to follow the steps given below to reduce the chance of having such a reaction while travelling:
- Plan: It is important to plan when travelling where there is a risk of severe allergic reactions. This includes researching the destination to identify possible allergens and discussing travel plans with an allergist or family doctor.
- Carry emergency medicine: It is important to carry emergency medicine when travelling, such as epinephrine auto-injectors (such as EpiPen), which carry the risk of serious allergic reactions. Make sure you have enough medicine and know how to take it during your trip.
- Contact the airline: Inform the airline of your allergy history and any necessary precautions to be taken. This includes requesting special meals if you have a food allergy and informing the flight crew of your emergency medications.
- Be informed: Know the phone numbers of local emergency services and the location of the nearest hospital in case you need them.
- Be prepared: Pack antihistamines and other medications you may need to manage the symptoms of an allergic reaction. Also included is a personal allergy action plan, and an allergy card explaining your condition and emergency treatment are also included.
- Be alert: Be aware of your surroundings and avoid known allergens. This may include avoiding certain foods or staying in hotels labelled “allergy-free.”
- Be aware of cultural differences: some allergens may be more common in certain countries or may be found in unexpected foods. Knowing these cultural differences can help you better manage your allergies while travelling.
- Consult your doctor or Allergist: It is important to consult your doctor or allergist before travelling to ensure you have all the required information and medication.
Travelling With An Epipen Australia
While in Australia, you should observe the following safety procedures if you are carrying an epinephrine auto-injector (such as an EpiPen):
- Bring in expiration-dated EpiPens and other emergency medications. You should also include replacement components in case anything breaks.
- If you have severe allergies and plan to bring an EpiPen with you on the plane, you should notify the airline in advance. In an emergency, the staff will be better able to assist you if they clearly understand the issue.
- Know the closest hospital and your area’s contact information for emergency services.
- Watch out for and avoid allergens by being cognisant of your immediate environment.
- Include an allergy action plan and any antihistamines or other medications you might require in case of an allergic reaction.
- Talk to your primary care physician or allergist before you leave on your trip to be sure you have all the necessary information and the appropriate medications, if any, are required.
- Check the airline’s policy on taking EpiPens and the rules of the nation you’ll be visiting to ensure you comply with all applicable requirements.
There are no laws or regulations in Australia that mandate passengers have an EpiPen on board. Still, it would help if you double-checked with your airline to make sure.
- Having your EpiPen on hand is crucial in the event of an allergic reaction, so remember to pack it in your carry-on luggage.
- Keep your EpiPen at room temperature and away from direct sunlight to prevent the drug from becoming ruined by excessive heat.
- Notify the hotel personnel of your predicament and request a room close to the front desk if necessary.
Checklist: Travelling With Allergy, Asthma Or AnaphylaxisTravelling with an illness can be challenging, but if properly planned, it can be bearable, even fun. If you or a loved one is travelling with allergies, asthma or anaphylaxis, a comprehensive checklist will help you stay organised and safe. The checklist should include the following:
- Plan ahead of time
- Prescriptions for your journey.
- A letter outlining the prescriptions that you must take.
- Specific immunisations.
- You should update your ASCIA Action Plan for Anaphylaxis and Travel Plan if you are planning to bring along an adrenaline (epinephrine) injector (EpiPen or Anapen ). You can take a picture of them along with your medicines and store them on your phone.
- If necessary, a medical certificate for your trip insurance.
- Pack extra medication if your flight is delayed, you lose yours, or you require a bigger dose than expected.
- Check the expiration dates of any medications you want to bring on your trip.
- If you’ve been instructed to carry adrenaline injectors, you should always be with them, even on trips. If adrenaline injectors are used, you should see if they are replaceable.
- Make sure to keep your medications in sealed condition. Since there are rules regarding the export of government-subsidised pharmaceuticals, this lessens the likelihood of encountering trouble with customs and security upon departure from Australia or New Zealand. Issues with border security and customs clearance are also possible.
- Make sure you have any necessary medications with you in your carry-on. Checked bags and overhead storage should include something other than adrenaline injectors. They need to be available at all times with minimal effort.
- A respiratory infection can trigger asthma attacks; therefore, vaccinating against influenza and other respiratory illnesses is a good idea. It is possible to safely provide the flu vaccine to people with severe egg allergies, says the Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy(ASCIA).
- Professional guidance is required if you require further immunisations that include eggs.
- Anaphylaxis Travel Plan
- Individuals at risk of anaphylaxis should visit the ASCIA website to obtain a free ASCIA Travel Plan. And then have your doctor or nurse practitioner fill it out. This is helpful for those who need to bring adrenaline injectors through airport security and customs.
- Notify your travel agent and airline(s) of any dietary allergies
- Contact the airline(s) to determine their food allergy regulations well in advance of travel and before booking tickets.
- Inform your travel agency and airline(s) of your food allergy.
- Make sure you have enough travel insurance.
- Make sure the policy will cover your medical needs. Sometimes additional permission is needed.
- Check if there are any specific requirements, such as a medical certificate or a cost to cover anaphylaxis.
- Hospitals and other healthcare facilities
- Determine the location and contact information of emergency facilities at your trip destination(s) and keep these facts on hand in case they are required.
- Make sure you have a mechanism to contact emergency services, such as your cell phone.
- Consider self-catering accommodation for food allergies, allowing you to prepare food for yourself safely.
- If you have substantial asthma or allergic rhinitis (hay fever) symptoms, enquire about relevant inhalant allergen risks (such as pets) while making your reservation.
- Speak with your doctor if you frequently fall ill when away from home. Some folks have had their meds boosted or started in preparation for the trip.
- Before boarding (ship or airline)
- When boarding a ship or plane, make the crew aware that you have severe allergies. Show them where your ASCIA Action Plan and adrenaline injector are kept (if prescribed).
- If you have an allergic reaction while flying, use your ASCIA Action Plan and alert flight attendants so they can help you.
- Notifying other passengers may be helpful, especially if doing so will lessen the risk of food containing allergens being provided to small children.
- Think about bringing your food, but keep in mind that there are limits on liquids on foreign flights. This is crucial when deciding on the right bottle size for liquid antihistamine or infant formula.
- It’s a good idea to wipe off table surfaces and armrests to eliminate any lingering food allergens (since touching them can sometimes cause mild allergic reactions).
- The likelihood of a serious allergic reaction is limited unless the food is consumed. However, inhaling fumes or dust from a food allergen may trigger allergic rhinitis (hay fever) or moderate asthma symptoms.
- Some airlines have “no-fly zones” (not serving allergenic food within a few rows of the allergic person). This can be requested, but we cannot guarantee its availability. It is unclear whether ‘exclusion zones’ are viable to limit the risk of allergen exposure because their efficacy has yet to be studied.
- Carry any necessary medications in your carry-on bag. Do NOT store adrenaline injectors in the overhead compartment; instead, keep them with you or under the seat in front of you. The adrenaline injectors must be easily accessible even when the seatbelt is fastened.
- Language cards
- When eating out in a country where the language is not English, it may be helpful to carry a travel card explaining your allergy and its symptoms in the local language.
- For further details
- Check out the ASCIA homepage www.allergy.org.au/anaphylaxis.
- It would help if you contacted the local patient support group: Allergy New Zealand www.allergy.org.nz or Allergy & Anaphylaxis Australia www.allergyfacts.org.au.