If you suffer from allergies, flying can be a little tricky depending on what triggers them. We’ve compiled a short list of ways to best deal with the most common allergy troubles when you fly.
Seasonal Allergies and Asthma
It’s certainly possible to be affected by seasonal allergies while you’re in the air since air quality onboard can be questionable under the best of circumstances. Other than over-the-counter decongestants, there aren’t any remedies that work for everyone. For the purposes of this blog post, let’s first deal with bouts of allergy flare-ups that begin before you board the plane. First and foremost, regardless of the severity of the allergy or type (including simple hay fever), its best to consult with your physician about self-medicating before you fly if you have any underlying health conditions such as high blood pressure.
Cabin pressure can exacerbate the stuffed-up feeling and cause some discomfort in the ears whether you take any over-the-counter medications. They may be your best bet for simple hay fever, but its best to make sure that you have the all-clear from your physician first. Under normal circumstances where the flight is not very long, its best to stay awake as falling asleep can further exacerbate the problem. That’s why it’s best to choose a non-drowsy decongestant if this is the remedy that you and your physician choose.
For asthma sufferers, the protocols can be a little more involved depending on the severity. Rather than go into the best protocols for asthma sufferers who fly, here is a great Cleveland Clinic guideline list that provides a standardized checklist of how to prepare for and deal with flying with asthma and more severe allergies.
Most people who are frequent flyers and also suffer from pet allergies already know this protocol, but if this is your first time flying (or you’ve had a good run of no pets on board) here is the rundown. When you book your flight, you should check with the airline to see if any pets or service animals will be in the cabin during your flight. This is a protocol that you should repeat once you arrive for check-in to see if there have been any last minute updates.
Many airlines allow passengers to bring small pets in carriers into the plane’s cabin, however a few do not. Either way, it’s best to check. Of course, you can’t do much about dander that has been left on the plane from an earlier flight, so it’s best to try to fly as early in the day as possible as the plane will have recently been cleaned. This decreases the chances of encountering dander.
We’ve saved the biggest allergy source for last as food allergies (like people with severe asthma) can have life threatening reactions. Almost every airline posts a policy guideline for people who suffer from food allergies. While nut allergies are the most prevalent, there are a number of foods common on airlines that can excite allergic reactions in a significant number of people. Before you book your flight, check the airline’s guidelines on this.
Although a number of airlines allow you to make special arrangements for meals, the additional costs may be a deterrent making other options more appealing. The first is to pack your own food. Keep it confined to solids so as to avoid any airport security restrictions.
After checking with your physician, you should inform the airline of your condition when you book the flight as well as when you board the plane. The Cleveland Clinic protocols for asthma go over medications for other allergies such as food allergies where a person may be bringing epinephrine onboard in the event of an attack, so review this carefully to be sure that you have prepared for all possibilities.
Just as with those of us that live with sleep apnea, traveling and flying can be a fairly simple experience with a little common sense, forethought, and planning. Just remember that the world is open to you to travel regardless of any allergies or breathing problems that you may have so get out there and have a safe, positive, and fun adventure.