Anyone who has lived with a persistent lung condition understands that certain precautions and compromises are a part of everyday life. When it comes to planning to go away somewhere, whether for business or pleasure, the need to be prepared only multiplies.
From having the right medication to knowing what to do in an emergency, being away from your usual support network makes it all the more important to think ahead.
Here are five tips for making sure you can keep travelling safely and happily.
Get the right insurance
If you have a long term lung condition, the chances of you needing medical treatment abroad – and therefore claiming against you travel insurance – are higher than average. That means that a standard travel policy is not an option, and you will need to seek specialist cover. If you have Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), for example, one of the most common of all lung conditions, you will not be eligible for standard travel insurance as the medical cover will not stretch to any treatment connected to the disease. To protect yourself against potentially high care costs, therefore, it is essential you seek a dedicated policy which covers your personal medical needs.
Check equipment with your airline
If you need to carry a Portable Oxygen Concentrator (POC) with you in case you get into breathing difficulties, it is important that you notify your airline in advance. Different companies will have different policies relating to ventilators on flights. Some will allow you to bring your own, some will offer to provide one of their own instead. In the latter case, that means you will have to hire one when you get to your destination.
Book direct flights and allow plenty of time
If your condition means that any kind of strenuous activity – such as rushing around a large airport with lots of baggage – is likely to leave you breathless, the best solution is to arrive at airports early and take your time. If you are carrying a POC on board or use a wheelchair, you may take longer getting through security anyway. Where possible, it is also a good idea to book direct flights, as this cuts out the need to rush around one airport at least.
Consider your destination
Different types of lung disease have symptoms triggered by different factors. If you suffer from asthma, for example, smoggy, heavily polluted cities may increase the risks of an attack. For any lung condition, the lower oxygen levels found at high altitudes can also exacerbate breathing difficulties. It is also worth looking into how hilly your destination is – you may want to avoid anywhere with a steep climb from the beach back to your accommodation, for example.
Consult your doctor
Finally, it is good advice never to travel with any kind of medical condition without consulting your doctor first. Getting a check-up will give you peace of mind that you are in reasonably good health and that there are no glaring risks in heading off on your travels. It is also important to get your doctor to prescribe all the medication you will need for the duration of your trip to take with you. And you will also find your doctor a good source of tips and advice on everything from the best climates to travel in to managing your condition on flights.