Sjogren’s syndrome is an autoimmune disorder in which the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks glands that produce secretions. This leads to symptoms such as dryness in the mouth and throat, eyes, skin, vagina, and other organs. These symptoms can cause discomfort when traveling and interfere with your schedule.
The Sjogren’s Syndrome Foundation has worked closely with the U.S Transport Security Administration (TSA) to ensure that the needs of Sjogren’s syndrome patients are met in domestic and international air travel originating from the U.S. Here a few tips to keep in mind when you travel after being diagnosed with Sjogren’s syndrome.
Arrive early at the airport
Arriving well in advance of your scheduled departure time can help you remain calm and gives you enough time to complete all necessary security checks before boarding. Allow enough time to request assisted boarding from the airline if needed and inform the security officer about the medications in your carry-on baggage.
Follow TSA guidelines
Sjogren’s syndrome patients and their caregivers need to be aware of certain TSA guidelines for airline travel, such as:
- You can carry an unlimited number of prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) medicines, even those more than 3 oz (85 g), in your carry-on baggage. Allowable medications include eye drops, saline solutions, and ointments, gels, or balms used to lubricate the eyes, mouth, nose, or lips.
- Tell the security officer that you have Sjogren’s syndrome and declare the medications you are carrying during the security screen.
- For reasons other than Sjogren’s syndrome, liquids, gels, and aerosols must be carried in containers under 3 oz in a single, one-quart, clear, zip-top bag, which will be X-ray screened.
Always carry a doctor’s certificate and medic alert
While traveling, you should always carry a note or certificate on a letterhead from your doctor explaining that you have Sjogren’s syndrome, including a list of medications that you need to carry. If possible, carry a copy of your personal health record with you, which can come in handy during a doctor’s appointment in a different city.
You should also wear a MedicAlert ID on you at all times so that first responders have a way of quickly knowing about your condition in case of an emergency.
Organize your medications
Properly organizing your medications can save precious time and makes it easy to access them. Make a note of medications that are particularly important and pack them in a separate bag.
Eye drops and other topical agents must be carried unopened in their original packaging. Carry enough pieces of wet washcloths in a separate bag and place them on your eyes occasionally to prevent them from drying. Check if your doctor recommends taking salivary stimulants such as Salagen (pilocarpine) and Evoxac (cevimeline hydrochloride) before boarding the plane.
If possible, carry items in duplicate in separate bags so that you have a back-up if one of your bags gets lost.
Carry enough food and liquids
Carry edible products such as sugar-free candies, gum, or juicy fruits to prevent your mouth from drying during travel. Purchase water or fill your water bottle once you are passed security. Avoid sticky foods, tobacco, alcohol, and carbonated drinks.
Ensure your medication is available at the destination
Make sure that your destination has the required medications in case of an emergency. If not, look into the possibility of sending your medications to the destination well before you arrive. However, this may require prescriptions and special customs forms so check with your travel agent.
Don’t travel alone if possible
Travel with a companion if at all possible. Make them aware of your condition and your MedicAlert ID.
Get adequate rest
Remember that you need adequate rest to prevent tiredness and fatigue. Ensure that your itinerary allows enough time for rest and relaxation.
Last updated: Feb. 17, 2020
Sjogren’s Syndrome News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.
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