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This Vacation, Send Allergies Packing

Planning ahead can help keep symptoms at bay this summer

SUNDAY, July 10, 2005 (HealthDay News) -- It's summer vacation time, but that doesn't mean allergies take a holiday, experts warn.

That's why allergic Americans need to take steps to reduce their symptoms when traveling, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (AAAAI).

"Although you cannot completely allergy-proof your vacation, there are steps you can take to minimize your allergy symptoms. The first step is proper planning; the last thing you want on your vacation is a trip to the emergency department due to your symptoms getting out of control," Dr. Leonard Bielory, a member of the AAAAI's aerobiology committee, said in a prepared statement.

In an effort to help people with allergies have a safe and reaction-free vacation, the AAAAI offers some advice for travelers.

Before you drive off on your vacation:

  • For 10 minutes before you depart, turn on your car's air conditioner in order to get rid of allergens such as pollen, indoor molds and dust mites, which are often found in the upholstery, carpeting and ventilation systems of vehicles.
  • Travel early in the morning or late in the evening in order to avoid heavy traffic and the time of day when air quality is at its worst.
  • Keep your windows closed and use air conditioning when driving in order to prevent allergens and pollen from getting inside the vehicle.

When traveling by air, remember that the recycled air in airplane cabins can trigger allergy symptoms. Food allergies are another potential concern, since it may be difficult to get information about specific ingredients in airline food. When flying:

  • Carry an EpiPen in case of severe reaction while in flight. Make sure airline staff know about the medication before checking in for the flight.
  • A saline nasal spray will keep nasal passages moist and help prevent aggravation of allergy symptoms caused by the dry air in airplanes.
  • Pack allergy medications in a carry-on bag. Don't put it in checked luggage, which may not make it to your destination.
  • Remember to adjust for time zone changes when calculating medication dosages.
  • During the flight, chew gum, sip liquids and swallow often in order to relieve sinus pressure.

At the hotel:

  • Request an allergy-proof room or ask for a room located in a dry, sunny area, away from the pool.
  • Ask about the hotel's pet policy and ask for a pet-free room.
  • Check if the hotel offers synthetic pillows. Consider bringing your own dust-proof pillow and mattress covers or personal bedding.
  • Ask the hotel to change the air filter on the room's air conditioner, and use the air conditioner instead of opening the windows.
  • If allergic to mold spores, don't use hotel closets or drawers, which are great breeding grounds for mold.

More information

The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology explains allergic reactions.

SOURCE: AAAAI news release, June 2005
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