When you’re on vacation, you probably want to just kick back and enjoy yourself. For those with severe allergies, venturing into new territory isn’t so relaxing. In fact, it can cause anxiety for those who don’t feel prepared. Learning how to take preventative measures and travel with your EpiPen makes your trips feel far more enjoyable and worry-free.
People who are highly allergic to certain substances, such as food or stinging insects, often experience anaphylaxis when they encounter this irritant. According to the Center for Anaphylactic Support, anaphylaxis, or anaphylactic shock, is the often life-threatening reaction someone has when exposed to this allergen. Symptoms often includes hives, trouble breathing or swallowing, and swelling around the mouth or eye area. The medication needed to stop the allergic reaction in its tracks is epinephrine. The EpiPen is an auto-injector of epinephrine to be used in emergency situations. According to the CAS, the EpiPen helps stop the allergic reaction, giving the victim more time to access emergency care.
According to the Transportation Security Administration, people who require EpiPens have what is called a "hidden disability." The TSA allows EpiPens to go through the security checkpoint after they have been inspected. Medicines and medical equipment like EpiPens are normally X-rayed, but if you prefer it not be X-rayed, you may request that the TSA do a visual inspection. The TSA does not require that you label your medications or medical devices. Should a security officer question you, simply inform him of your allergy and need for the EpiPen.
The best way to avoid using your EpiPen while traveling is to be attuned to your surroundings and take precautionary steps. If you do not speak the country’s language, do a little research before you leave town. Learn the name of the irritant in that language (or write it down) and learn how to say that you cannot eat that substance, so when you are ordering food, you can inform the restaurant of your allergy. Know where nearby hospitals are and what the local emergency number is. When you check into your accommodations, the front desk will be happy to equip you with that information.
If you are traveling with other people, tell them about your condition, where you store your EpiPen, and how to use it in case you are incapacitated. If you are traveling solo, tell your hotel about your allergy and give them an emergency contact number. Wearing a medical identification bracelet that explains your allergies and susceptibility to anaphylaxis. In an emergency, this helps respondents know how to quickly and correctly address your situation. EpiPen says that if possible, book an early flight. They tend to be cleaner and not as likely to carry allergens.
According to the CAS, side effects may include "an increase in heart rate, a stronger or irregular heartbeat, sweating, nausea and vomiting, difficulty breathing, paleness, dizziness, weakness or shakiness, headache, apprehension, nervousness, or anxiety." Fortunately, those usually dissipate quickly, especially with rest. Those with high blood pressure or overactive thyroid may have severe or longer symptoms, and those with heart disease may feel chest pain. Additionally, those with Parkinson's may temporarily experience a worsening in symptoms, and diabetics may see an increase in their blood sugar levels after EpiPen use.