alt=a man looking cautious and nervous while on a crowded subway car

Allergies & Asthma: Proceeding With Caution on the Tube

One of the things about living in and around London is that to get around different parts of the city, the quickest and most convenient way of traveling is using the Underground Tube service.

Traveling on the London Underground with allergies

However, this could be highly problematic if you suffer from allergies or asthma. The Underground dates back to the late 19th century, and not much has changed about it in all that time.

There is no air conditioning system, so there is nowhere for the heat to escape. When engineers first constructed the Underground, they only left room for extra cooling systems to be fitted.

Dealing with poor air quality

In the summer months, it is absolutely unbearable down there. Whenever I travel on the tube in the summer, it feels like I am suffocating. It's terrifying, and I try to avoid it as someone with chronic asthma.

It's a high-anxiety situation

The anxiety I get when the only mode of transportation is the tube is too overwhelming. My mind goes to scary places. I imagine a scenario whereby I am trapped deep down under London because of some terrorist attack and huddled in a packed train, unable to breathe. Why do our brains take us to these places? I am sure I am not alone here.

Wearing a mask when traveling

The Underground is full of horrible black dust that gets in your face and airways. It is from all the trains braking, tracks, and wheels; this air cannot be suitable for anyone.

I do not understand why more people do not wear masks. Actually, I think there is a hightened stigma towards people who still wear masks due to COVID-19. People in masks are looked upon suspiciously. You can feel the judgment, but I have to keep my allergies at bay, so a little judgment bounces off me.

Taking a shower immediately after

When I get home after being in London, I first take a shower, then take all my medications. The dust that comes off me is gross. I always wear a mask when riding the tube, as do others, but we are still in the minority.

The tube is always bustling

Another anxiety-inducing scenario for me is crowded spaces. Again, the Underground is bad for this. It is never empty or calm. Perhaps in the early hours of the morning, but more often than not, it is usually rammed.

Especially if my eyes start to itch or my wheezing becomes tighter. The anxiety to remain normal and to keep still becomes unbelievably stressful.

We do the best we can with allergies

I know what you might think: "Pete, don't put yourself in the environments that make your allergies come on."

This is a great point. But as we all know, it is not always practical. Allergy sufferers still have to get around. I have had to learn to navigate this world with all these hellish things going on inside and outside my body.

Don't let allergies stop you

Unfortunately, life involves occasionally being in crowded environments. If I could give 1 tip to anyone suffering from allergies, it would be to try and not to let them stop you from doing what you enjoy. Manage your allergies as best you can. It's frustrating and debilitating at times, but this is our only life, so let's live it!

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