2007-07-13 / Health & Wellness

Planning a vacation for a child with asthma

A successful family vacation offers activities for everyone. When traveling with children who have asthma, however, visiting new places brings changes in climate and exposure to triggers that may increase the risk of asthma attacks. For the family living with asthma, traveling requires extra planning.

Affecting 9 million youngsters in this country, asthma is the most common chronic condition among children, and it can interfere with family activities, including vacations.

When traveling with a child with asthma, parents should check the weather, as extreme hot and cold temperatures can trigger an attack. They should also get the pollution, pollen and mold counts of their chosen destination. It is a good idea to locate the closest medical facilities and make sure all family members know what to do if an asthma attack occurs.

Choosing lodging can also be tricky. Reserve a nonsmoking room at a pet-free property. Some places offer allergy-proof rooms or at least hypoallergenic bedding. If not, request that the room be thoroughly aired out and vacuumed, and bring hypoallergenic bedding.

Keep the child's triggers in mind when planning activities. Avoid the outdoors when air pollution or pollen counts are high or if the weather is extreme. Find a fun indoor activity like a museum, arcade or show to avoid extreme weather. When outdoors, choose a physical activity that is realistic for the child to do. If planning hikes, climbs or bicycle touring, build in time for rest and remember to stay well hydrated.

Some basic tips include:

•Pre-vacation checkup. Visit the child's doctor to make sure asthma symptoms are under control before leaving.

•Careful packing. Pack an upto-date asthma action plan, as well as the child's asthma medicines and devices in a carry-on bag. The FAA allows passengers to carry on medications and respiratoryrelated equipment, such as a nebulizer. Just make sure to notify the airline in advance to be accommodated properly.

•Have backups. Bring an extra set of written prescriptions in case of medication loss or travel problems that may extend the trip.

•Clearly label. Store medicines in original containers so all prescription information is handy for emergency refills.

There is no cure for asthma, and for many children proper asthma management requires long-term treatment with inhaled corticosteroids. Along with knowing and avoiding triggers, using ICS regularly as prescribed by the child's doctor helps keep asthma attacks from starting. A successful vacation is within reach.

This story is provided by North American Precis Syndicate Inc.

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