Updated 09 January 2019

Your 10-step asthma holiday checklist

Don’t let asthma ruin your summer holiday. Whether you are travelling or embracing the summer at home, make sure you plan ahead.

Although people with asthma are usually good at keeping their symptoms under control, a different environment or hot, humid weather can trigger and aggravate symptoms.

It’s almost holiday time, and whether you are living it up locally or travelling abroad, here are a few steps you can take for a worry-free holiday.

1. Talk to your doctor about adjusting your medication

If you plan to visit a hotter, more humid (or drier) region than you are used to, chat to your doctor about adjusting your medication to keep your symptoms under control. Especially humidity can worsen your asthma symptoms. 

woman consulting doctor

2. Make sure your prescriptions are up to date

If you are travelling, it’s important to make sure that you have enough medication. You might not be able to update your prescription while you are away, and you don’t want to run out.

prescription medication

3. Be careful of chlorine

Planning to swim? High chlorine levels can trigger asthma symptoms. An incorrect pH level and poor general maintenance of a public pool may worsen your symptoms. If your child has asthma, do not let them swim unsupervised and always keep their inhaler at hand in case of an attack.

children swimming

4. Request smoke-free, mould-free accommodation

Check with your host or hotel front desk beforehand to make sure that your accommodation is smoke-free and maintained for mould. These two factors could worsen symptoms and make your stay unpleasant.

no-smoking sign

5. Check your medical aid or scheme

If you are travelling abroad, check whether your medical aid covers you or your children for doctor’s visits or emergencies in case of an asthma attack. If you travel locally, check to see which hospitals or doctors in the area belong to your network to prevent additional costs during an emergency. 

medical scheme forms

6. Think ahead

If you know that you or your children are affected by pollen, use a weather app such as Accuweather to determine the humidity and pollen count in the area beforehand. 

weather app

7. Pack your own bedding

Bring your own pillow cases and sheets in case your asthma is triggered by dust or dust mites. This will help to make you and your children feel more secure.

making bed

8.  Check and double-check

Make a list of essential medication such as inhalers, spacers and nebulisers so that you don’t forget anything when you travel.

asthma equipment

9.  Stay hydrated and healthy

Drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated during hot weather. Also wash your hands regularly to avoid picking up germs which could lead to infections.drinking water at the beach

10. Have fun

Don’t let asthma hold you or your kids you back. Teach your children that they can absolutely swim and partake in physical activities while suffering from asthma, as long as they are prepared and careful. Know the signs when asthma is about to turn into a medical emergency and keep a watchful eye on your children. But also remember to relax and have fun!

father and child playing

Image credits: iStock


Ask the Expert

Asthma Expert

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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