Severe Food Allergies Here and Abroad: Tips to Remember When Traveling with Severe Food Allergies
You’ve bought your ticket, packed your bag and you’re ready to go. Or are you? Are you sure that you’ve brought everything you need? Have you taken all the necessary precautions before your flight? When traveling with food allergies, it is vital to make sure that you have done thorough planning before heading to your travel destination. Planning ahead will save you time, stress, and most importantly, could save your life.
Continue reading to discover valuable tips to remember before traveling especially abroad.
The days counting down to your departure are the most important. It is your opportunity to ensure that you have completed everything on your checklist, and you’re all packed and ready to go. When you are planning to travel, your first course of action should be speaking with your allergist regarding an Emergency Action Plan. An emergency action plan is a document signed and filled out by your doctor, entailing personal information, specific allergies, medications, and symptoms of anaphylaxis. Since anaphylaxis is a life-threatening allergic reaction, it is important that everyone traveling with you is aware and knows how to assist you in the event you go into anaphylactic shock. Remember to carry the action plan and your Medical ID with you at all times during your travel; it is the best way to ensure your safety
If you have a severe life-threatening allergy, you should always carry an Epinephrine Auto-Injector or EpiPen. An EpiPen is your first line of defense against allergic reactions, especially if you can’t get to a hospital quickly. Be sure to pack at least four EpiPens in your carry-on bag. Everyone who is traveling with you should know how to inject the medication properly, so make sure that it is easily accessible and easy to locate. Your epinephrine injectors should be stored at a safe temperature and checked to see that they are not damaged or expired. Whatever you do, do not leave your medications at home; it should be the first thing you pack.
Know Your Symptoms
If you have a food allergy, it is vital to identify and recognize all symptoms of an allergic reaction. This is especially crucial if you are at risk of going into anaphylactic shock. Although this article is about severe reactions to foods, anaphylaxis can also occur if someone is highly allergic to insect bites, certain medications, or latex. The signs and symptoms are the same and may include but are not limited to:
If you are experiencing one or more of these symptoms within minutes to hours following exposure to food, you may be going into anaphylactic shock. Anaphylaxis can occur in three different ways. It can occur as a single reaction that slowly gets better: two reactions that occur between 8 and 72 hours apart; or a long-lasting reaction that lasts for anywhere between a couple of hours to a few days.
With allergic reactions, it is crucial to respond quickly to the signs and symptoms that you are experiencing. If you recognize your symptoms, you can seek medical assistance immediately by calling for an ambulance and/or using your EpiPen until you can reach the nearest hospital. Knowing your symptoms is the easiest way to identify that you may have come in contact with a food allergen.
Continue reading to learn additional tips to make your travel safer and easier with life-threatening food allergies.
Know Your Location
When traveling to different countries, there will be many challenges that you face, so it is crucial to make sure you do your research on the location that you are traveling to. You should know the local food labeling laws, food restrictions, and other vital information that could influence your allergies. In different countries, it can be challenging to communicate your specific dietary restrictions because of language barriers. It may be useful to stick to countries that speak your native language or any other language in which you are fluent so that you can accurately communicate your allergy concerns and issues. A great alternative is to print out translation cards in the national language so that you can inform the chefs and servers of your specific allergens.
EpiPens, once injected, only last for a period of between 10 to 20 minutes, so it is important to get to a hospital as quickly as you can. Identify the nearest hospital/s to your hotel, so in the event of an emergency, you can get to one promptly. Try to stay within an hour’s distance from the hospital, so it is an easy commute in the event that you need to be transported to the hospital for medical treatment.
You have passed security, checked in your luggage, and now you are waiting to board your flight. Most airlines are known for serving peanuts as a complimentary snack during the flight. Speak to the gate attendant about your food allergies before boarding, especially if your allergies are life-threatening. You may be able to board the flight early to disinfect surfaces that your family may come in contact with and remove any remnants of a specific food allergen. Flight attendants on most airlines are also able to inform fellow passengers not to eat or consume specific food allergens during the flight. This is a helpful extra precautionary step to take to ensure your safety while traveling.
You are now nestled into your seat and ready to take off. Make sure that your epinephrine injector is easily accessible in case you come in contact with the food allergen. If you are traveling alone, inform the flight attendant of your allergy and where the injector is located so that they can administer the medication if you need assistance. While most planes have an EpiPen available onboard for use in emergencies, don’t take a chance with that and bring your own. During your flight in such an enclosed area, you can be easily exposed to allergens. Airlines appreciate you disinfecting your seat and informing the flight attendants you are doing your part in ensuring your safety.
3,2,1 Take off! You are now on your way to your travel destination. With this useful advice, you will be well prepared for your travel. If you follow these tips, you will lower your risk of a severe allergic reaction and take the necessary precautions to ensure your safety during this vacation.
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