Oxygen - travel; Collapsed lung - travel; Chest surgery - travel; COPD - travel; Chronic obstructive airways disease - travel; Chronic obstructive lung disease - travel; Chronic bronchitis - travel; Emphysema - travel
If you have breathing problems such as asthma or COPD, you can travel safely if you take a few precautions.
It's easier to stay healthy while traveling if you are in good health before you go. Before traveling, you should talk with your health care provider if you have breathing problems and you:
Also talk with your provider if you were in the hospital for your breathing problems and had:
Check with your provider if you plan to travel in a place at a high altitude (such as states like Colorado or Utah and countries like Peru or Ecuador).
Two weeks before you travel, tell your airline that you will need oxygen on the plane. (The airline may not be able to accommodate you if you tell them less than 48 hours before your flight.)
Airlines and airports will not provide oxygen while you are not on an airplane. This includes before and after the flight, and during a layover. Call your oxygen supplier who may be able to help.
On the day of travel:
Get a flu shot every year to help prevent infection. Ask your provider if you need a pneumonia vaccine and get one if you do.
Wash your hands often. Stay away from crowds. Ask visitors who have a cold to wear a mask.
Have a name, phone number, and address of a doctor where you are going. Do not go to areas that do not have good medical care.
Bring enough medicine, even some extra. Bring copies of your recent medical records with you.
Contact your oxygen company and find out if they can provide oxygen in the city you are traveling to.
American Lung Association website. What goes in an asthma or COPD travel pack? www.lung.org/about-us/blog/2017/09/asthma-copd-travel-pack.html. Updated September 8, 2017. Accessed January 31, 2020.
American Thoracic Society website. Oxygen therapy. www.thoracic.org/patients/patient-resources/resources/oxygen-therapy.pdf. Updated April 2016. Accessed January 31, 2020.
Luks AM, Schoene RB, Swenson ER. High altitude. In: Broaddus VC, Mason RJ, Ernst JD, et al, eds. Murray and Nadel's Textbook of Respiratory Medicine. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 77.
McCarthy A, Burchard GD. The traveler with pre-existing disease. In: Keystone JS, Kozarsky PE, Connor BA, Nothdurft HD, Mendelson M, Leder K, eds. Travel Medicine. 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2019:chap 26.
Suh KN, Flaherty GT. The older traveler. In: Keystone JS, Kozarsky PE, Connor BA, Nothdurft HD, Mendelson M, Leder K, eds. Travel Medicine. 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2019:chap 24.BACK TO TOP
Review Date: 1/12/2020
Reviewed By: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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