Before packing asthma medicines for a trip, keep these suggestions in mind:
• Take extra medicine. Pack one and a half times what you think you’ll need for the number of days you’ll be away in case you are delayed, the trip is extended, or you have to use more medicine than usual because your child experiences an asthma flare.
• All medicines should travel in appropriate containers. Keep them in the containers they came in from the pharmacy. All the necessary information should be on the pharmacy label. Labels should show the child’s name, medicine name, dose, name of the prescriber, and the medicine’s strength. Many parents know the name of their child’s medicine but not its strength; this can cause problems because many medicines come in multiple strengths.
• Pack medicines so you’ll have immediate access to them at any time during the trip. They should be packed so that they’re protected from getting wet or from extreme temperatures. When traveling by car, keep medicines up front in the passenger area, not in the trunk or glove compartment, which can become too warm. On a plane, keep medicines with you in a carry-on bag. Do not pack them in a suitcase that will be checked and stowed in the baggage compartment. It is more likely to get lost and could be exposed to temperature extremes.
• Have quick-relief medicine available at all times. Don’t leave it behind at the hotel when you go out for the day.
If your child takes medicine by nebulizer, you may want to consider obtaining a portable nebulizer, which is usually smaller than a regular nebulizer and runs on batteries or a car cigarette lighter (DC power) rather than plugging a cord into an electrical outlet. A portable nebulizer is convenient for travel, but it is usually less powerful than a regular nebulizer, so treatments may take longer. And some portable nebulizers do not put out the proper medicine-particle-size mist. (Only certain size particles can go down into the small airways.)
Another consideration is the fact that many health insurers will not cover the cost of a second nebulizer, let alone a portable one that is more expensive. If you decide to get one, you may have to pay for it out-of-pocket. Another option you might want to discuss with your child’s physician or nurse practitioner is switching from a nebulizer to metered dose inhalers with a spacer, as long as the medicine your child takes is available in that form and you learn how to use the device properly ahead of time. These devices can be used successfully even in infants, as long as they’re used with a face mask.
If you bring a nebulizer on a plane trip, you will probably need to check it with luggage rather than carry it on board with you. Since luggage is sometimes lost, it is a good idea to identify an equipment company near your destination that will rent a nebulizer for the length of your stay just in case.