|Summer has arrived, and with it comes an increase in travel activities. Both exiting and stressful, travel can put more pressure and anxiety on parents who have children with asthma. There are so many factors that could provoke an attack or worsen asthma symptoms – airplane cabins and hotel rooms with unexpected triggers, a lot of|
| time spent outdoors with different plant allergens, accidentally missed doses of preventer medications, lots of unhealthy convenience food, overexposure to sun, sports activities and over-excitement. Children with asthma and allergies have a weakened immune system, and an interrupted everyday routine and switch to an unknown environment might affect them more than healthy children. Does it mean avoiding travel? Not at all.Children, especially the ones living in Northern climates and therefore spending a big part of the year indoors, need to use every day of warm season to strengthen their immune system. Ocean water, fresh air, reasonable sun exposure, and outdoor sports activities are all perfect tools for the task. In addition to being good for physical health, family travel stimulates a child’s mind, boosts their self esteem and promotes positive emotions through the experiences of new places and cultures, sightseeing and adventures.
Spending a majority of time outdoors and being physically active is what we all are biologically designed for. Unfortunately, in the last few decades, we are becoming progressively more allergic to virtually everything, and therefore hiding from the sun and blooming outdoor plants, avoiding animals, avoiding exercise, not letting outdoor air in and not going out because it all might trigger or worsen our respiratory conditions. Sadly, we are becoming allergic to life…
Out of desperation, we are resorting to “Handy Dandy” Claritin and other allergy drugs. But lately a number of allergy and asthma medications have drawn negative attention from the FDA because of the medications’ side effects. The latest warning came out just a couple of weeks ago.
The FDA today (June 12, 2009) asked makers of Singulair, Accolate, Zyflo, and Zyflo CR to include a precaution on those drugs’ labels about reports of behavior and mood changes. Singulair is used to treat asthma and symptoms of allergic rhinitis. Accolate, Zyflo, and Zyflo CR are used to treat asthma. All four drugs are leukotriene inhibitors, which affect the leukotriene pathway, which is involved in the body’s response to inflammatory stimuli (such as breathing in an allergen).The FDA notes that some patients using those drugs have reported neuropsychiatric events (behavior or mood changes) including agitation, aggression, anxiousness, dream abnormalities and hallucinations, depression, insomnia, irritability, restlessness, suicidal thinking and behavior (including suicide), and tremor. The FDA has already reviewed data from clinical trials about suicide risk in patients taking leukotriene inhibitors. (http://www.webmd.com/asthma/news/20090612/4-asthma-drugs-get-new-precaution?ecd=wnl_aaa_062209)
And, we are hiding from “triggers”. There is a parent’s checklist for an asthmatic child’s travel:
• Pack your medication, make sure you have enough refill for the time of travel.
• Keep medication in carry-on bags on the plane.
• If traveling by car, keep the windows closed and the air conditioner on.
• Check the region of travel’s air quality forecast
• In the hotel, request a room that has never had pets in it.
• Request a nonsmoking room.
• Make sure people you’ll be staying with know about your child’s asthma triggers.
• For skiing vacations, make sure you plan for rest indoors.
• Be prepared to change your plans if your child is struggling with his or her asthma.
• If you are camping, keep your child away from the fire.
• Avoid long walks when the air pollution or pollen counts are high or if the weather is going to be extremely cold and dry.
If you’d like your child with asthma to fully enjoy their summer and the great outdoors, come to our class. Learning the Buteyko technique will relieve you of many worries of traveling with a child with asthma. Besides hiding from life and stocking up on medication, you will learn there is a third, better option.