Spring has sprung!
While many eagerly await the first signs of spring, those budding trees and growing grasses can mean sneezing and wheezing for those who suffer from allergies.
Allergies include the following common symptoms:
- Stuffy or runny nose
- Sore throat
- Itchy or watery eyes
This is also a troubling time for asthma. You may wonder what allergies and asthma have in common. It turns out allergies and asthma often occur together. The same substances that trigger allergy symptoms may also cause asthma symptoms such as wheezing, coughing, or difficulty breathing. This is called allergic asthma or allergy-induced asthma.
Most common allergy triggers, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, are:
- Tree, grass, and weed pollen
- Mold spores
- Dust mite and cockroach allergens
- Cat, dog, and rodent dander
In some cases, allergies have the potential to be more than a seasonal irritant. Many people actually suffer from allergy symptoms year round.
It’s important to understand the challenges of having allergies during each part of the year in order to keep asthma and allergies symptoms under control.
Avoid allergen exposure:
Know triggers and learn how to avoid them. These are some tips to help avoid common allergy triggers:
- Keep windows closed during pollen season, especially during the day.
- Stay inside during mid-day and afternoon hours when pollen counts are highest.
- Take a shower, wash hair, and change clothing after working or playing outdoors.
- Wear a mask when doing outdoor chores like mowing the lawn. An allergist can help you find the type of mask that works best.
Over the Counter Medications:
Over the counter allergy remedies may help to decrease minor allergy symptoms. While these medications may reduce allergy symptoms, they will not control asthma symptoms though they may help improve them. Talk to your health care provider if you are experiencing asthma symptoms including wheezing, coughing, shortness of breath and difficulty breathing.
Allergy shots are one of the most effective ways to help treat spring allergies and aid in better asthma control. Allergy shots gradually reduce your immune system’s response to certain allergy triggers. These are usually used in severe cases that are not controlled by medications alone, so speak with your doctor if you think these might be a good choice for you.
Ask your doctor about medications that treat both allergies and asthma if you experience symptoms of both conditions. Long-term asthma maintenance medications, quick-relief medications, and inhaled steroids may be used to prevent more severe asthma symptoms.
If allergies and asthma take the spring out of your step in the Spring (or Summer or Fall), don’t feel as though you have to suffer. Take action! Talk to your doctor and, if you do have asthma, talk to him or her about the steps above and develop an Asthma Action Plan. This is an important tool that will help you take an active role in managing your asthma. Know the things that trigger your allergy and asthma symptoms and learn how to limit your exposure to them.
You can feel better and continue to live a full and active life, even in the face of allergies!