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Travel With Allergies

Air Travel & Allergies: 8 Factors That May Reduce Risk

“Eight percent of U.S. children now have food allergies,” notes Greenhawt. “This is not a problem that’s going to go away; this is going to affect more and more people. So the earlier that we can find a solution to this, the better off we’ll all be.”

In an earlier study of airlines and allergies, Greenhawt identified a concerning feature among those who reported reactions on planes: the reluctance to use epinephrine. That behavior resurfaced in this study. While 98 of the study participants had epinephrine available, only 13 percent of those who reacted used their auto-injector to treat symptoms (most relied on antihistamines instead).

His recommendations to patients from his airlines and food allergies research? The first would be to bring your (or your child’s) auto-injectors and and to use the device in a suspected reaction.

“In an airplane, there’s not a lot of margin for error and you don’t have the same ground-based support (e.g. an ambulance),” he said. “If you misperceive the initial severity of a reaction and it continues to progress in an airplane, you’re dealing with fewer resources and precious time, so err on the side of caution.”

The study author would contact the airline about making accommodations. He additionally recommends (as do most allergists) bringing your own safe food for the trip and using wipes to clean tray tables, seats and armrests. “Airlines don’t mind people wiping down their seats,” he notes.

Airlines & Allergies
Study Size 3,273
In-flight reaction (child or self) 349
No In-flight reaction (child or self) 2,924
Pre-Flight Accomodation Requests
Reactors 55%
Non-Reactors 72%
All respondents 69%

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Allergic Living acknowledges the assistance of the OMDC Magazine Fund, an initative of the Ontario Media Development Cooperation.