Updated 07 January 2014

Asthma and travel

If you suffer from asthma, there’s no reason why you can’t still enjoy holidays away. The key to a relaxed holiday, however, is to plan well ahead.


If you suffer from asthma, there’s no reason why you can’t still enjoy holidays away. The key to a relaxed holiday, however, is to plan well ahead.

Some points to consider:

  • Discuss your holiday plans with your doctor and ask him for a written treatment plan and an emergency action plan. Together with your doctor, ensure you have enough reliever medication and steroid tablets with instructions on how to use them in an emergency;
  • Take enough medicines to last you longer than you’ll be away. It may also be a good idea to take along an extra prescription in case you run into difficulty. If you’re travelling to a foreign country, it may be a good idea to get your prescription translated. Contact the local foreign embassy for help;
  • Always keep your medication with you and not in your luggage in the hold. This way, if your luggage gets lost or stolen, you won’t be stuck without medication;
  • When you arrive at your destination, make sure you know where the nearest pharmacy and hospital casualty department is. Ask your B&B to provide you with the number of the local ambulance service;
  • Dust mites are an asthmatic’s nightmare. As far as possible, stay in hotels or B&Bs that are spotless. When you make your booking, explain that you’re asthmatic and outline your needs. Ask for synthetic duvets and pillows, or take your own pillow;
  • Asthma triggers are sudden changes in weather (especially if the weather suddenly becomes very cold), moulds which thrive in damp, humid areas and pollens. Do your research before choosing your destination to ensure you don’t go to areas containing the triggers that may precipitate an attack;
  • Carry details about your health insurance, contact telephone numbers (including your doctor and family members), what medications you usually take and the dosage.If you’re going on holiday or staying over with friends, draw up a travel plan and carry it with you. It should contain all your asthma information, so people will be able to see at a glance what they need to do to help you.

- Updated by Olivia Rose-Innes, EnviroHealth Editor, Health24, August 2011

Read more:
Asthma Centre

National Asthma Education Programme (NAEP)
Allergy Society of South Africa (ALLSA)


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Professor Keertan Dheda has received of several prestigious awards including the 2014 Oppenheimer Award, and has published over 160 peer-reviewed papers and holds 3 patents related to new TB diagnostic or infection control technologies. He serves on the editorial board of the journals PLoS One, the International Journal of Tuberculosis and Lung Disease, American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Medicine, Lancet Respiratory Diseases and Nature Scientific Reports, amongst others.Read his full biography at the University of Cape Town Lung Institute

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