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Allergies Health Center

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Relief for Allergies While Traveling

Try these tips for allergy relief on the road.

Allergies on the Road and in the Air

No matter what form of transportation you take to get to your destination, it’s impossible to avoid allergens. But a few easy steps can keep your exposure to a minimum.

In the car:

Travel during low-traffic periods, like early morning and late evening. Not only will you avoid the higher levels of air pollution caused by idling vehicles as traffic slows to a crawl, you’ll spend less time on the road!

Avoid driving with the windows down; use the air conditioner instead. Be sure to use the “recirculation” setting rather than the outdoor vent setting, and try turning on the A/C for about 10 minutes before you set out. That can help remove dust mites and mold from the upholstery.

“Most newer models of cars have cabin air cleaners, meaning that the air in the passenger compartment is recirculated through some sort of filter,” says James L. Sublett, MD, an allergist in Louisville, Ky. “These should be changed regularly, when the oil is changed. Don’t try to save money by not doing that, because they can really improve the air quality in the car.”

On the plane or train:

The air in planes is particularly dry, so be sure your carry-on includes saline nasal spray. “Use it once an hour to keep nasal passages moist,” recommends Linda Ford, MD, an allergist with the Asthma and Allergy Center in Papillion, Neb.

All U.S. domestic flights, and most flights between the U.S. and international destinations, are smoke-free, but some airlines in other countries still allow smoking. If you’re on a flight where smoking is permitted, ask to be seated as far as possible from the smoking section, and adjust your air blower so that it blows from the smoking section back toward it.

Look for Allergy-Friendly Hotels

More and more hotels are advertising themselves as offering asthma- and allergy-friendly rooms; ask your hotel if it offers such accommodations. These might include pillow and mattress covers and hypoallergenic linens.

At a minimum you should seek out a hotel that is entirely smoke-free. Hotels that permit smoking, but have “nonsmoking rooms” often do not strictly enforce this policy, and it’s easy to tell that previous guests have smoked in the room.

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