If your child has seasonal allergies, the all-too-familiar itchy, watery eyes, runny nose and sneezing can put a damper on your travel plans. But, they shouldn’t be a roadblock to your family’s much-needed getaway.
Vacations are important for family bonding and making memories that will last a lifetime. And, your child doesn’t have to be miserable doing it, either.
A little planning can go a long way to ease your child’s discomfort and get back to more fun in the sun.
“You can definitely travel and have moderate to severe seasonal allergies,” said Dr. Ravi Karnani, an allergist and immunologist at Akron Children’s Hospital. “Hotels are doing a better job of offering pet-free, smoke-free and air-conditioned rooms to help make kids with allergies more comfortable during their stay.”
Dr. Karnani offers 5 tips to spell relief for your child while traveling.
1. Research the air quality and pollen count at your destination.
The types and amount of allergens in the air vary from one part of the country to another. Check out the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s AirNow website. It alerts you about a specific area’s air quality throughout the country. “It’s helpful to know when your destination’s pollen season begins,” said Dr. Karnani. “Many people travel this time of year and they may not realize that even though it’s still winter here, the tree pollen season is already in full swing in many places, especially down south.”
2. Look for allergy-free accommodations, such as pet-free and smoke-free rooms and common areas.
Also, request a sunny, dry room away from the indoor pool. In addition, call ahead and ask if the hotel provides allergy-proof pillow and mattress covers. If they don’t, you can bring your own for added protection against dust mites.
3. Pack all your medications and allergy information.
If you’re flying, keep them in your carry-on bags for easy access and protection against lost luggage. MyChart Mobile makes it easy because a list of all your medications, allergy history and information is all in one place. Plus, the option to message your doctor with questions or request prescription renewals while you’re away is in the palm of your hands.
If you know the pollen count is high, Dr. Karnani recommends you start your child on an over-the-counter nasal spray, such as Flonase or Rhinocort, a week before your departure.
Then once you arrive, give your child an antihistamine, such as Claritin or Zyrtec, and use eye drops, like Zaditor, for relief as symptoms arise.
For kids with asthma, make sure you get a new rescue inhaler and take your child’s emergency supplies. Allergies can cause asthma flare-ups, so be sure to locate the nearest urgent care or emergency room near your hotel for extra precaution.
“Most seasonal allergy symptoms can be managed until you get back home,” said Dr. Karnani. “But, if your child is wheezing, coughing or has other asthma-type symptoms, you may need to refer to your asthma action plan or seek more immediate medical attention.”
4. Keep the windows closed and run the air conditioner when driving in the car or relaxing indoors.
With the air conditioning on and the windows closed, you can reduce indoor pollen exposure by more than 90%.
“Using the air conditioner also helps to lower the humidity in the room,” said Dr. Karnani. “Lower humidity can reduce dust mites and hinder mold growth.”
5. Bathe your child and get him a fresh change of clothes each night after a long day outdoors to wash off pollen and other allergens.
“I know when I go on vacation, I want to be outdoors, but just because you have allergies doesn’t mean you can’t,” said Dr. Karnani. “Visit your allergist prior to your getaway to discuss your travel plans and take all the necessary precautions for a stress-free, memorable family vacation.”