Asthma Basics: Traveling with Asthma
In planning for your vacation, remember to always include preparations for your asthma management. Managing your asthma does not stop just because you are on vacation. It's even more important to keep your asthma controlled while on vacation and traveling so you can remain active and involved in all activities!
Medications and Medical Care
Visit your primary care provider well in advance of your trip to ensure that your asthma is under good control and to ask about any special precautions and medications needed.
Be sure to pack your TRICARE Prime enrollment card(s). If you are going to be traveling into an area where military treatment facilities are not available, then consider contacting your TRICARE regional contractor prior to departing and obtain a list of names and telephone numbers of approved network providers in the area to which you are traveling. Having this information available ahead of time may save you some valuable time should you need urgent or routine medical care during your trip. Be sure to contact your Primary Care Provider (PCM) for authorization prior to seeking urgent or routine medical care while traveling in order to avoid paying a higher cost-share and deductible.
TRICARE South Region Contractor: 1-800-444-5445 or http://www.tricare.osd.mil
- Keep a list of your medications with you in your wallet.
- Keep medications in original containers with original labels.
- Bring all asthma medications listed on your Asthma Action Plan.
- Get refills for any medication that might expire or run out while you are away.
- If possible, bring extra quantities of medications in case of loss or to avoid running short.
- Carry your medications on board in your carry-on luggage when flying. If your checked luggage gets lost, you will still have your medications available.
- Do not store metered dose inhaler (MDI) canisters in the car in hot or freezing weather.
- When traveling overseas you can contact the International Association for Assistance to Travelers (IAAT) at (716) 754-4883 or http://www.iamat.org to obtain information about health risks; the geographical distribution of diseases; immunization requirements; sanitary conditions of water, milk and food; and environmental and climatic conditions around the world. They can also assist you in identifying English-speaking doctors who have been trained in the USA or Europe in the countries you will visit. (Remember, you still must obtain prior authorization from TRICARE for any medical care provided, unless emergency care.) IAAT is a nonprofit organization and does accept small monetary donations for their services.
- Bring your spacers, peak flow meter, asthma/peak flow diaries, and an updated Asthma Action Plan. Keep them in the same bag for carry-on when flying.
- If you use a nebulizer/compressor machine, be sure to bring all necessary pieces and a spare set. Bring an appropriate electrical power outlet adapter or converter prior to traveling outside the United States.
- To protect against dust mites, bring your own allergy-proof pillow or mattress casings.
- Consider wearing a medical alert-type necklace or bracelet identifying you as an asthmatic.
- Try to keep your normal daily routine as much as possible. It is especially important to take your medicine and/or treatments on time.
- Keep the telephone number of your primary care provider with you.
- If you have been recently hospitalized, carry a discharge summary or letter from your doctor explaining current medications and medical care.
- Avoid known triggers if possible. If staying with family or friends, call ahead and discuss your concerns. Make other arrangements if known allergens/triggers cannot be avoided.
- If you come into contact with an allergen (grass, animals), bathe, shampoo, and change clothes. This may prevent an asthma episode or lessen its severity.
- Prior to beginning a lengthy auto trip, take appropriate measures to rid the vehicle's ventilating and air conditioning system of mold and mildew.
- Asthma episodes are common on special occasions such as birthdays, weddings, family reunions, and holidays. Take time out to rest and calm down during exciting times to reduce the chances of having your asthma flare up.