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Travelling with IPF

Whether you are planning to visit a familiar place or thinking of exploring a new destination, you may be concerned about how your new or progressing condition will affect your travels. IPF shouldn’t automatically cut your holiday hopes short. Talk to your specialist or other health care providers about your plans – he or she may be able to help you realise them. Here you will find some helpful information to get the conversation started, as well as a general guide of what to expect in the planning process and travelling phase.

Choosing a destination

When choosing a destination, it is important to keep the following in mind:

Climate
Although there aren’t any guidelines or recommendations concerning climate- and weather-related conditions for patients with IPF, you should consider what type of climate or weather patterns you are comfortable in before choosing where to go and when. Depending on your individual level of sensitivity, humidity, or lack thereof, and extreme temperatures could cause discomfort.

 

Air Quality
Air quality is an important factor for everyone, however, for those with respiratory conditions, air quality plays an even greater role in their health and well-being. A recent study has shown an association between high levels of two common air quality indicators, ozone (O3) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2), and acute exacerbations in patients with IPF.1 Although the study looked at an exposure period of six weeks, looking into local air quality levels is worth considering for anyone with a respiratory illness. The World Health Organisation provides data on ambient air pollution for major cities around the world. In addition, many areas provide data on their air conditions and pollution levels on regional websites.

Visit the WHO’s Global Health Observatory page to view world-wide interactive pollution maps.

 

Terrain
Considering the terrain of your destination is not limited to outdoor, nature activities. Cities can also be hilly and have varying degrees of walkability and wheelchair-friendliness. It might be worth looking into the overall terrain of the place you are planning to visit whether it is a nature-focused holiday or a city trip. You should also consider what sites you plan visit and look into whether they offer options for tourists with limited mobility such as lifts/escalators versus stairs and the availability and accessibility of public transport.

 

Elevation
Travelling to high elevations may require patients with IPF to use supplemental oxygen or to increase their oxygen flow if already on oxygen therapy at or near sea level. Depending on the severity of your condition, your doctor may do a pre-travel evaluation to determine whether you need oxygen therapy at your destination or if monitoring your oxygen levels and physical status once you arrive to your high-altitude destination is sufficient.2

 

Mode of Transportation
Choosing how you will get to your destination is an important part of the planning process. If you choose to fly, there may be more planning involved and some arrangements will need to be made far in advance. Read more about airplane requirements concerning in-flight oxygen here. Depending on your mobility, you may also need to make special arrangements when travelling by train or bus.

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References

  1. Johannson KA, et al. Acute exacerbation of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis associated with air pollution exposure. Eur Respir J ;2014;43:1124–1131.
  2. Luks AM. Do lung disease patients need supplemental oxygen at high altitude? High Alt Med Biol 2009;10:321–327.

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