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Traveling With a Child Who Has Asthma

Last updated on November 20th, 2021

Mindy is a toddler with mild persistent asthma. She had never been hospitalized or treated in the emergency room. On a family trip to Florida, she ended up in the emergency room with an asthma attack. This took her parents totally by surprise because her asthma had always been under control. She was treated at a local hospital emergency room that did not specialize in pediatrics. Mindy did well, but this little detour in the family vacation certainly frightened her parents.

When planning any trip, you map out a route and make reservations. When you pack for a trip, you consider where you are going, how you will be getting there, how long you will be away, and what the weather will be like. You don’t just randomly throw things into a suitcase. You select the right type of clothes and accessories (such as sunscreen), make sure they are in good condition, and pack them so you will be able to get to them when you need them.

Asthma never takes a vacation, so asthma therapy shouldn’t either. Planning ahead to keep asthma under control during travel requires similar planning. When you’re prepared, there should be no interruption in therapy during travel. Being prepared means figuring out in advance where you can get expert treatment if your child develops an asthma flare, both along the way and at your destination. Think about the environment you will be visiting. Is it dry, dusty, damp? Could there be potential triggers to which your child isn’t normally exposed? Remember that your child may seem fine, but in an environment away from home, you never know what triggers your child might encounter.

Your daily schedule on a trip will probably differ from routines at home, so figure out when asthma treatments can be realistically given during the trip, make a schedule, and stick to it. If you miss a dose or two, your child could possibly develop a flare, and that would put a damper on your plans.

Some other travel tips are:

  • Make sure you have a full supply of controller and quick-relief medicines, as well as their necessary delivery devices. A vacation is not the time to let your teenager use his inhaler without the spacer just so he doesn’t have to pack it.
  • Bring contact information for your child’s physician or nurse practitioner, and pharmacy.
  • Be sure to take along a copy of your child’s asthma management plan.
  • If you are planning a car trip that will take more than a few hours, plan treatment stops along the way. It is safer and more efficient to give medicine — especially inhaled medicine — when the car is stopped so you can give your full attention to the treatment.
  • Before you leave home, identify hospitals at your destination where you can go for urgent care, just in case.
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