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Traveling with Lung Disease

Taking a trip can be a big challenge for someone with a breathing disorder. Organization is a must! But with careful planning, your vacation can prove to be a success!
  1. Plan to stick to your regular medical regimen while on your trip. Trying to “travel light” and decrease your usual regimen can prove to have some “heavy” consequences.
  2. Visit your healthcare provider and discuss your travel plans in advance. Have your physician write you extra prescriptions for your medications. These may prove to be handy in case you become separated from your luggage. Be sure that your medications are labeled with your name, the name of the medication, and dosage!
  3. If your medical regimen includes electronic respiratory equipment, speak with your equipment provider. There are special adapters available to enable you to plug your equipment into a car cigarette lighter or an overseas outlet.
  4. It is also recommended to carry your electronic equipment as hand luggage. If your current system is too large, ask your equipment provider to assist you in temporarily exchanging your equipment for something smaller to prevent damage to your equipment through the usual baggage checks.
  5. If you are dependent on oxygen and planning a long trip, ask your oxygen provider to provide you with enough tanks to reach your destination. Most providers will contact another company in the area you are visiting and arrange for oxygen to arrive at your hotel, etc.
  6. When you are planning a trip, choose climate and conditions that do not trigger difficulty breathing. For example, since there is less oxygen in the air the higher you go, you will probably have more trouble breathing in the mountains and other high places. Your healthcare provider will be able to tell you how altitude changes will affect you.
  7. When traveling, it could be beneficial to wear identification to alert others to your condition.
  8. If you are planning to take a cruise, it is a good idea to find out what healthcare providers are located onboard the ship. Most ships carrying more than 100 passengers generally have a doctor on board, but medical professionals aboard ships tend to be generalists rather than specialists. It is always a good idea to receive the recommended immunizations for the ports of call that you will be visiting.
If you are traveling outside the United States, it is a good idea to find out about the availability of an English-speaking physician before you leave. The following agencies offer free or low cost assistance to travelers:
The International Association for Medical Assistance to Travelers
123 Edward Street, Suite 725
Toronto, Ontario, Canada M56 162
(212) 279-6465
 
Health Care Abroad
1029 Investment Building
1511 K Street N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20005
(800) 336-3310
If you must use oxygen and you plan to fly, there are special arrangements that need to be taken care of prior to heading to the airport!
  1. Airlines will not allow you to carry your oxygen on board the plane with you. You must use the airline’s oxygen delivery system.
  2. You may need to show your doctor’s written prescription for your oxygen to the airlines to reserve this service.
  3. There is an additional charge for use of the airline’s oxygen. A 1996 article quoted United Airlines as charging an additional $50.00 for a one-way flight use of oxygen on board the plane.
  4. You will need to make arrangements with an oxygen company for oxygen and equipment to be available, or with the airport before you board the plane-- and after you reach your destination. You may need a written prescription for this service as well.
  5. Call your airline a week to two weeks in advance to ensure that oxygen will be available and because procedures may vary from airline to airline.