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Travelling with asthma or COPD

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Prior to travelling, patients should be advised to discuss their travel plans with their doctor and/or practice nurse. It is helpful for patients to have a review of their asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) prior to travelling. It may also be useful to have a self-management plan, which gives medication details, emergency advice, and contact telephone numbers for advice.1

As part of a pre-travel review of asthma or COPD, it is worth confirming that the patient has received their annual influenza immunisation. Furthermore, pneumococcal immunisation is recommended for those with severe asthma who require continuous or frequently repeated use of steroids as well as for those with COPD. Altitude, air pollution, and allergens at the destination of travel are important considerations.1

If travel is safe and COPD or asthma optimised, health insurance should be arranged. If travel is within Europe, a European Health Insurance Card is recommended. This card allows reciprocal emergency treatment in European countries. However, this does not cover repatriation, so insurance cover remains necessary. Moreover, having a travel companion that is aware of the medical needs of the passenger is helpful.

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