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Traveling with Allergies, Sinus and Asthma

Editors Note: 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.

The Airplane – Surviving the ride 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, some 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 request 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, sodas, 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 saline solution power mix.
  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 or a nasal wash system.
  9. Suck on papaya enzymes or Clear-Ease natural fruit enzyme tablets.

The Car – Minimize Allergens

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. Many of our top brand HEPA Vacuums have a handheld turbo brush and other special attachments that make cleaning the car easy and efficient.
  3. If the car upholstery is not heat sensitive, use a Steam Cleaner to clean the upholstery and carpets. This gets rid of mold and dust mite allergen. Do not steam clean leather or synthetic velour.
  4. Air conditioners are a repository for all sorts of allergens. Spray your air conditioner with a dust and mold allergy removal spray.
  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. Many hotels are starting to offer allergy-friendly and hypoallergenic rooms. If the hotel you are planning to staying at does not advertise one, it never hurts to request a hypoallergenic hotel room. Allergy-friendly and hypoallergenic hotel rooms are thoroughly cleaned to reduce dust mites, bacteria and other irritants. Many are equipped with a room air purifier, hardwood floors rather than carpets, blinds rather than drapes, hypoallergenic synthetic bedding, dust mite encasings and fragrance-free "green" bathroom products.
  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. You can find these in our Cleaning Supplies or at your local health food store or Home Depot.
  4. Ask that the air conditioner filter be changed before you arrive.
  5. Hotel room a little dry? Bring a travel humidifier with you, such as a water bottle humidifier to put on the night stand. For more moisture, 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 encasings 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, down-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 and 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.

A Couple Extra Tips 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.