If you get the spring sniffles when the trees start to bud and ragweed seems to be everywhere – or even if you don’t – understand that travel abroad could include amazing memories as well as some sinus congestion.
For us in the northern hemisphere, traveling south of the Equator brings us into the opposite season. So, if you’re heading to Buenos Aires in February, flowers will be in bloom and the grass cut regularly. Add in some new flora and fauna into the mix, and you could find that you’re sniffling, sneezing, and congestion as your body reacts to new, unfamiliar pollens. Even between the U.S. and Europe, plants, trees, and other botanical wonders can be a bit different and cause you some unfamiliar reactions.
Depending on where you travel to, you could find that it’s not just plant-based pollens that cause you problems. Dirt roads, mold, or other ‘new’ exposures could make your eyes water, head ache, and lungs work to get junk out of your body. My office mates and I in Dublin often suffered from sinus infections and bronchitis – abnormal illnesses for the group. Then, one day, the IT guys were working on our connection lines and moved some ceiling tiles..and..Voila!…the black mold thriving in the ceiling of our old damp building was the culprit.
Granted, on a short trip, you’re less apt to suffer from mold-related issues and more apt to suffer from pollen-based issues. However, it’s good to keep in mind that if you come down with something that’s not a standard long-flight induced head cold, something else could be at play.
If you know that you have an allergy to something non-food related – pollens, bees, or other gifts from Mother Nature – you’re best to have a small kit prepared to take on your trip. A pencil case from Target, Walmart, or Staples makes a great container for your kit (as does a standard zip-lock bag). Add in some basic anti-allergy meds in tablet form like Benadryl and Claratin/Zyrtec/Allegra, along with some Tylenol/Advil, Day & NightQuil, and some Pepto Bismol. The travel section of your local CVS or Walgreens should have a great selection of these basic over-the-counter meds in a size that easily fits into your kit. If you are allergic to bees, make sure you also pack your EpiPen.
If you don’t have a chance to build your kit pre-travel, don’t worry, it’s very likely that no matter where you are traveling, a pharmacy or ‘chemist’ will be fairly close. Have a chat with the pharmacist and they’ll recommend a local product that eases your symptoms – so you can enjoy your trip.