We are a family of skiers and snowboarders, and have lots of visitors because we live in a beautiful ski resort town. During visits from friends we spend lots of time up at the resort hanging out at their hotel after a full day of riding. Staying at a hotel is a ton of fun but not if your allergies or asthma are triggered by allergens in the hotel room. A little preparation will go a long to ensuring a great ski vacation. Your asthma or allergies should be well controlled before you go, so check with your doctor at least two weeks before your trip to assess your asthma or allergy control and review your plans.
Cold air is dry air and when combined with exercise, you have two triggers at once. Altitude sickness can be another problem, whether you have asthma or not. Because the symptoms of an asthma flare up can be very similar to altitude sickness it’s important to be aware of your condition. If respiratory problems develop that don’t respond promptly to your routine asthma treatment, go to the mountainside clinic. They can tell the difference between asthma and altitude sickness and will give you the needed treatment, but there are also medications you can take before hitting the slopes.
We try to minimize the risk of altitude sickness by drinking plenty of water. It can also help to avoid carbonated drinks and caffeine. I know that’s pretty impossible for most people. No coffee in the morning, a energy drink mid day or a nice ice cold beer after skiing? Gotta have it! Just don’t over do it and make sure you drink lots if water throughout the day along with your other indulgences. We always make sure to carry H2O with us on the mountain. CamelBak hydration backpacks are perfect for water and carrying a few snacks for energy while riding the lift.
Remember, skiing is vigorous exercise. Many people benefit from using their bronchodilator inhalers before hitting the slopes. You should always carry your inhaler with you when you are on the mountain, just in case. Also take along your Asthma Action Plan, a written plan developed by your doctor or asthma specialist to help you or another family member, including teenagers and children, manage asthma and prevent asthma attacks. The plan is designed to tell you or other family members what to do when there are changes in the severity of asthma symptoms.
Here are some other helpful tips for asthmatics when skiing or snowboarding:
Wear a face mask to conserve the moisture that you exhale. At least wrap a scarf over your nose and mouth whenever possible.
Eat well....you will need the energy and stay hydrated (water is best).
Know where the medical facilities are located near where you’re staying and on the slopes.
Pace yourself. Its easy to get amped up and forget to take breaks. Remember skiing and snowboarding demands a lot of physical strength.
Did you know that during the 2012 Winter Olympics, 50% of our Olympic Winter Sports athletes, especially at the highest level of the Olympics, struggled with exercise-induced bronchospasm, exercise-induced asthma or breathing problems. The cross country skiers, the world class ice skaters, the hockey players – all make up that 50 percent. Traditionally, for most high level athletes, that number is about 15%.
That’s inspiring evidence that you too can enjoy your favorite winter sport by simply taking a few precautions. Some people with asthma and allergies even notice that the fresh, cool winter air gives them a welcome break from the pollens and other allergens back home.
Don’t let allergies or asthma hold you back from getting out there and enjoying the slopes! Get informed & prepared...then get on the mountain!
See you on the slopes!- Guy Rawson & TheVentMaskTeam