Should A Person With Asthma Go Camping?
Definitely! Being an asthmatic should not prevent any adult or child from going camping, unless he or she is demonstrating symptoms that suggest a sinus or virus infection or a more serious illness, like pneumonia.
Here are some timely tips for those who suffer from asthma, but still want to go camping.
First of all, it is a good idea for anyone who suspects that he or she may be an asthmatic to visit his or her physician, prior to going camping, particularly if he or she has not had a physical within the last year. If you are a person who has been diagnosed as being an asthmatic and have been living with asthma for some time, it may still be a good idea to have a checkup first.
It is important to take proper precautions in order to prevent an unexpected asthma attack, either while you are en route to your camping site or when you are camping, so take the time to prepare properly. You really do not want your camping trip to be cut short because of an asthma attack that might have been prevented. Nor do you want to spoil your vacation, or that of others.
Do some online research, before you decide where you are going to go camping, as you will need to find an area that is clean and healthy, rather than one where you may pick contact an infection. Make certain that the water in the area where you plan to go is good drinking water. Clean air is also important. Make certain that any facilities in the camping area are well tended and appropriate for campers. It is generally a good idea to find a camping site where there is a telephone nearby, in case of an emergency.
Plan to wear a light cotton handkerchief or scarf, in case you are in a place where the air is not good or, this might come in handy, if you are in contact with others who have been infected by a virus, like the H1N1 virus. Make certain that you are always going to be able to wash your hands properly, in order to avoid infections. Take extra water or hand sanitizers with you. Avoid crowded areas at campsites.
Do you know any other campers who are asthmatics? Find out where they have been camping and benefit from their experiences. They may be able to give you all kinds of good camping tips too.
Regarding your physical activity, some of what you will be doing while you are at camp may not be much different than you would do if you were at home, out with your family and friends on a day excursion, playing or working outdoors. But there are other things that you need to watch out for, so let’s look briefly at the symptoms of asthma.
A person with asthma may be coughing, experiencing tightness of his or her chest, shortness of breath and wheezing. It is important that an asthmatic is always properly diagnosed and treated by a physician
What happens when a person has an asthma attack?
An asthma attack occurs when there is inflammation of the muscles surrounding the air passages of the lungs. Narrowing of the airways causes intermittent bronchospasms. This causes a wheezing sound that a physician can identify, by listening with a stethoscope. If you have a severe attack, you and others who are near you, may be able to hear the wheezing sound too.
Is an asthma attack a serious medical situation for a camper?
Yes, an asthma attack can be a very serious and frightening experience for an asthmatic, as well as for other adults and children, who are present. An asthma attack can happen very suddenly and it may present a life threatening situation.
Asthma attacks are often associated with panic attacks, particularly when an asthmatic is alone when it happens. Every asthma attack should be taken seriously, an asthmatic may not be able to breathe properly. He or she may appear to be gasping or choking, as well as wheezing.
What are some of the things that trigger asthmatic attacks?
Excitement, fear and anxiety about a camping trip, can all trigger asthma attacks. So can strenuous exercise, particularly if you are not accustomed to this kind of activity. Plan your exercise accordingly and arrange to have rest periods, when necessary. Changes in the weather may also affect your breathing.
Being in a motor vehicle for an extended period of time when it is hot, can trigger an asthma attack, particularly if you are exposed to a lot of gasoline or diesel fuel fumes. Dust or the hot tar smell from new pavement, might also trigger an attack. As an asthmatic, you should avoid traveling in a motor vehicle, if there is a smoker present, as cigarette smoke or even old cigarette smoke, can trigger an asthma attack. Any unusual or unexpected odors may cause you to start wheezing. Do not panic, if you or someone else has an asthma attack, while en route to your camping site. Seek medical advice and treatment, at the nearest hospital emergency room. You may have allergies that you are not aware of. If you have asthma symptoms, that you suspect may be related to allergies, a doctor will be able to can advise you about what to avoid. He or she may also recommend treatment or allergy testing, at some time in the future. Medical specialists stress the fact that asthma and allergies are closely inter-related and often act as triggers for asthma attacks.
For instance, you might be in contact with a spray called citrashine, a chemical spray used on fruits and vegetables to prevent mold. This is the waxy substance on apples, oranges and green peppers. If you are allergic to it, it could trigger a very sudden asthma attack. When camping, wash or peel your fruits and vegetables before eating them. You might also contact your local poison control center, for further information on this topic. If you are able to identify what you are allergic to, ahead of time, you may be able to avoid contact with that particular allergen and prevent a full blown asthma attack. They will be able to advise you of other allergens, that you may not be aware of as well.
If you have not purchased an allergy bracelet already, it is a good idea to do so, before you leave for camp. It should state on the bracelet what you are allergic to, so that others, including medical personnel, will be able to identify your allergies and treat your asthma symptoms effectively. Wear your allergy bracelet at all times as it will show others that you are a person who takes your allergies seriously.
Do you normally tolerate nuts, eggs, fish, shellfish and milk? If you know that you are allergic to them, it is not a good idea to eat them when you are camping, just to please others, as they can trigger an avoidable asthma attack. Thank them graciously but decline them. Do not try new foods when camping.
Have your asthma medications with you at all times.
This may include adrenalin in the form of an epi-pen, which your physician prescribes for you. Make certain that you know how to use it and that others are trained to administer the adrenalin injection, in an emergency. Being stung by a bee, wasp or a hornet could result in anaphylactic shock, along with asthma symptoms. Do you normally use an inhaler or antihistamines, for your asthma and allergies? Take extra medications with you, especially when you are going into wilderness country. Pack a first aid kit with everything you normally use at home for your asthma. Cortisone cream or ointment might help to prevent a skin reaction from insect bites that also may trigger asthma symptoms. Water, to which a small amount of vinegar has been added, can help to reduce reactions to insect bites like horse flies, mosquitoes and black flies, that could trigger an asthma attack. (Ketchup and relish both contain some vinegar.)
Many asthmatics are allergic to smoke from camp fires and this may cause an asthmatic to have severe difficulty breathing, if smoke is inhaled. Stay out of the direct line of camp fire smoke. When you sense lung irritation or start coughing beside a camp fire, move out of the area quickly. Do not stay close to camp fires, even for roasting marshmallows or wieners for hot dogs.
Tenting can be a lot of fun, but if your tent has been stored in a basement or garage and has become moldy or has mildew on it, you may experience severe breathing problems. This can be worse, if the tent has been closed during the day and is very hot inside. Before you leave for camp, clean your tent with soap and water. Then, air it out several days before you go camping. Make certain that your tent has an air vent or unzip the opening, in order to allow fresh air to circulate during the day and at night.
When you arrive at your camps site, look for a clean, dry spot to set up your tent. Avoid any camping spots that are damp, musty or dusty, as they may cause you to experience an asthma attack. You may be able to find an open, rocky area, right next to a stream of running water. It will be better in terms of the air that you breathe, as the oxygen level is likely to be higher near running water. Do not set up your tent where there are old, dry leaves or decaying branches, as they may be moldy and have ants that you might be allergic to as well.
Make sure that your sleeping bag and your pillow are always kept clean and dry. Do not use feather sleeping bags, pillows or mattresses for camping. An air mattress is fine, as long as it is not moldy. It may be a good idea to sleep on a portable cot, rather than right on the ground, where it is damp.
When you are planning your trip, check the pollen count, in the area where you are planning to camp. If the pollen count is really high and the weather is extremely hot, consider postponing your camping trip, until the pollen count drops. If you are a person who normally experiences asthma attacks when you are around trees, eg. birch trees, you might prefer to go camping during July and August. If you are allergic to ragweed, the pollen count is probably higher in late July and August, so camp earlier in the season. Ragweed pollen decreases in September or October or after the first frost.
Consuming different or unusual kinds of foods can trigger asthma attacks. Make certain that the food that you take and eat at camp, is non-allergenic for you. Do not expect or count on anyone else to bring the food or drinks that you should be eating and drinking, as they may not understand the seriousness of your allergies. As an asthmatic, you know what is safe for you to eat and drink and what foods to avoid.
You also know what kind of clothing you can wear. For instance, avoid wearing a woolen sweater. Do not wear any kinds of clothing made out of plastic, as they may contain chemicals that are irritants and can trigger asthma attacks. Rubber products may trigger asthma attacks. If you sense irritation from something that you are wearing, find something else to wear.
Avoid exposure to any kinds of chemicals and use natural cleaning products, whenever possible. Do not use aerosols, perfumes or sprays.
Avoid contact with pets as you may be allergic to their dander.
If you experience an asthma attack, try to relax and breathe gently. Do not panic. When you are able to do so, take a drink of cool water or suck on an ice cube. You may find that this will help to reduce the swelling of your lips, mouth and throat. This is referred to as an angioedema reaction and can happen if you eat peanut butter or strawberries. These allergens may cause asthma symptoms also. Drinking something cool or cold, may help to ease your breathing, when you first start to wheeze. Use your inhaler or take your antihistamine medication, as soon as possible. Make certain that those who you are with are aware that you are having difficulty breathing. If you are having an asthma attack while you are in a cabin, go outside into the evening air immediately, even if it is raining a bit. You will probably be able to breathe easier. Going into a bathroom where there is a running shower, may help ease an asthma attack. If your symptoms are getting worse, head for the closest emergency room at a hospital, as you may need to have oxygen.
Keep a record of any allergic reactions or asthma attacks that you have. If possible, identify the allergens or the cause of the asthma attacks, as your doctor will need to know about them and may be able to help you prevent them from occurring at a later date. Remember that prevention is a major factor in terms of asthma attacks.
Should asthmatics go camping? Definitely, but as an asthmatic, make certain that you always take extra precautions, when going camping. You will be glad that you did. Enjoy your camping experience!