Dr. Erik McLaughlin writes the informative Adventure Doc blog. He says that packing both oral and topical antihistamines (something like Benadryl capsules or cream) makes sense even if you don’t think you have problems with allergies. “Allergy troubles happen when we come into contact with allergic triggers. People who don’t have allergies at home are probably just not coming into contact with their personal triggers. But that’s exactly what travel is about: coming into contact with new things. Some of these new things can cause allergies which can not only be dangerous but can also really slow down a fun trip.”
Travelers with a history of anaphylactic reactions (swelling of the mouth or throat, shortness of breath and other severe reactions) should ALWAYS carry an EpiPen with them, Dr. McLaughlin adds, and a traveler with a history of asthma should always carry an inhaler. Ask your doctor for multiple prescriptions, and carry one with you (on your person) and have others strategically placed in your gear as back-ups. Make sure that someone you’re travelling with knows about your allergies – and how to administer the medication – in case you can’t do it for yourself.
This last point is especially important, says a lady we know, if you carry an EpiPen. “Every since Pulp Fiction, half the world seems convinced that you are supposed to plunge an EpiPen into someone’s heart. DON’T. The medication gets injected under the skin, just like a flu shot or insulin.”
Food allergies can also be a concern for travelers, especially those who want to experience as much local culture and cuisine as possible as they travel. A number of companies now offer wallet cards with food allergy information in multiple languages, and a cottage industry of translators willing to customize one for you has even sprung up on the Internet. So instead of staying home – or eating bland “American style” cuisine – it’s now possible to hand over a personalized card to the waiter, and have the chef in nearly any restaurant in the world create a dish that avoids potential allergy problems. About.com’s Food Allergies page has details and links to many providers of these cards.
Here are some more tips on managing allergies when you travel from an allergy relief website sponsored by a popular nasal antihistamine.
- Travel early in the morning or late in the evening when the air quality is best. (Airplane cabins are at their cleanest on the first flight of the day – and that’s also the flight least likely to suffer flight delays.
- Know what triggers your allergies and stay away from them.
- Got a pollen allergy? Go diving – there isn’t much pollen at the beach, and none underwater.
- Dry climates will have more dust, but low pollen and mold counts.
- Humid climates will have less dust but higher pollen and mold counts.
- Mold and mildew allergies? Avoid staying in hotel rooms or bungalow with evaporative (swamp) coolers.
So take a few precautions, and enjoy your next adventure – without the sneezing and wheezing!
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