According to research from Asthma UK, there are over 5.4 million asthma sufferers in Britain today – this works out to be 1 in 11 children, and 1 in 12 adults, so as you can imagine it is quite a common medical condition.
Causes of asthma
Medical experts are not really sure what exactly causes asthma, but what they do know is that if one or both of your parents have asthma, then you are more likely to develop the condition too, as well as non-hereditary causes such as smoking and air pollution from the environment (for example, city centres) and industrial workplaces where toxic chemicals are used on a regular basis.
If you suffer from asthma, and are due to go on holiday or a business trip abroad, then you need to check out this guide to help you prepare for your travels.
The importance of being prepared
When you are travelling abroad, it is very important that you are fully prepared to deal with any flare-ups that may occur – for example, if you travel to countries such as China you are more likely to have asthma flare-ups than in other countries due to the significantly high levels of air pollution.
Scuba diving can also be a no-go for many asthmatics due to air being denser the lower down you dive. Some asthmatics do actually dive without too much of a problem, in those cases it is always best to notify people you are diving with that you have asthma in case you have an attack whilst you are diving.
What to do before travelling
Before you travel abroad, you should visit your GP or asthma nurse to review your asthma medication, and to get a repeat prescription if you are running low. You should always have plenty of medication with you when you travel, and it is important that you keep it in your hand luggage when you fly rather than in your suitcase.
Talking with your GP or asthma nurse before travelling will also help you to have a management plan should your asthma get significantly worse when you are abroad.
Portable travel nebulisers are a worthwhile purchase before travelling, as is a spacer and an inhaler. Pillows made with duck feathers for example can cause an asthma flare-up, so consider packing a pillow made with synthetic materials in case the hotel you are staying at uses pillows which can cause flare-ups.
As mentioned earlier, keep your asthma medication with you in your hand luggage so that you can use it if you need to.
It is worth bearing in mind that oxygen levels are reduced when you are flying, normally the majority of asthmatics will not experience any problems because of this, but in some cases where people suffer from severe asthma, you may need to ask permission before flying to use a nebuliser and oxygen.
Once you are at your destination
When you arrive, it is best not to do any physical activity so that your body can become acclimatised to the local conditions. Carry your inhaler with you at all times just as you do back home.