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Start off 2020 with a New Awareness for Every Season This Year!: Vital Asthma Warning Signs for Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter

Start off 2020 with a New Awareness for Every Season This Year!: Vital Asthma Warning Signs for Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter

Asthma never takes a day off, especially in Arizona. 10% of Arizonans have been diagnosed with having asthma. This chronic lung condition is a danger all year long, but the warning signs and triggers often differ from season to season.

Every time of year brings its own set of challenges for asthma sufferers and their families, from indoor air pollution in houses sealed tight for the Arizona winter cold to the pollen that comes with blooming desert plants and grasses and the renewal of the spring season.

If you want to keep your asthma symptoms under control, it pays to understand the seasonality of this life-threatening condition. Here are some of the seasonal warning signs to be aware of during spring, summer, fall, and winter.

Spring Asthma Warning Signs

Spring Asthma Warning Signs

Spring is a season of beauty and renewal, but for those with asthma, it can also be a time of suffering and more frequent attacks. Asthma triggers are all too common at this time of year, and here are some key things to watch out for.

  • Pollen in the air – the same pollen particles that trigger allergic reactions in susceptible individuals can kick up asthma attacks in those who suffer from chronic lung disease. If you are sensitive to pollen such as desert grasses, olive trees, citrus blossoms, desert shrubs to name a few, it pays to limit outdoor activities when pollen counts are high. To see more information about particular desert plants that affect many of our patients, see this article here.
  • Frequent temperature changes – The weather changes fast in the springtime, and those sudden changes can trigger asthma attacks. Those who suffer from the disease should watch the weather forecast carefully and limit strenuous activity when the temperatures are prone to rapid changes.
  • Air pollution – The higher temperatures of spring can make existing air pollution worse, both inside and outside the home. Now that the weather is warmer, you may open the windows more often, allowing air pollution into your home. An air purifier can help reduce indoor air pollution, and limiting outdoor activities can help outside the home.

Summertime Warning Signs for Asthma Sufferers

Summertime Warning Signs for Asthma Sufferers

For many people, summer is the best time of year, but for asthma sufferers, the hot weather can be a real challenge. Here are some of the most common summer asthma triggers and warning signs to be aware of.

  • Higher humidity when the monsoon season starts – Humidity in the air can make existing asthma symptoms worsen, or even trigger a dangerous attack. Asthma sufferers should limit their activities during periods of high relative humidity.
  • Our extremely hot June and July temperatures- For asthma sufferers, every additional degree of temperature can increase the risk of an asthma attack. Limiting outdoor activities during the hottest part of the day, drinking plenty of fluids and taking frequent breaks can all help reduce the risk.
  • Chlorine – A dip in the pool is a great way to beat the summer heat, but chlorine could trigger an asthma attack. Chlorine fumes are particularly dangerous for asthma sufferers, so please stay away when your pool is being cleaned.
  • Insects – Bugs are common in the summer, but some of these insects are more dangerous than others such as dust mites (read here for more details). For asthma sufferers, the pain, trauma, and shock of a bee sting or wasp attack could trigger an asthma attack, so keep your bug repellent handy.
    • Campfires – Everyone loves getting away from our Phoenix heat to head off to cooler places in an Arizona forest. And many of us enjoy sitting around a roaring campfire – everyone except asthma sufferers. The smoke from summer campfires could trigger an asthma attack, so you might need to avoid the notorious lovely campfire or grill out and stay indoors.

Fall Asthma Dangers

Fall Asthma Dangers

Autumn is a time of transition, but it can also be a trying time for asthma sufferers. Many seemingly benign parts of the season can be triggers for asthma sufferers, and here are some things to watch out for this time of year.

  • Weed pollens – Fall is a busy time of year for weed pollens, including ragweed sagebrush and even tumbleweeds. If you are triggered by this kind of pollen, it is best to stay indoors when pollen counts are high. Also, grass reseeding is a major culprit of causing problems.
  • Temperature changes – The same temperature challenges that make spring a difficult time of year for asthma sufferers are also common in the fall. With warm days and cool nights, this time of year can be a difficult one, especially since after being cooped up in the A/C for our long summer, we are EAGER to get outside. We leave our indoor gyms and our homes to enjoy hiking, walking and biking- basically anything outdoors. However, exercising in the outdoors could be enough to trigger an asthma attack. Limiting outdoor activities and watching the daily pollen count can both help reduce the risk of an asthma attack this time of year.
  • Mold spores – Mold grows readily in the damp air and cooler temperatures common in the late autumn season when the chillier rains start to come. If you even suspect your home has mold, a prompt mold remediation program could reduce your risk of a dangerous asthma attack.

Wintertime Challenges for Asthma Sufferers

Wintertime Challenges for Asthma Sufferers

Winter is a time of cold and snow, but it can also be a season of asthma attacks. Many winter challenges can make existing asthma worse, including these common disease triggers, as well as ones more specific to holidays which are mentioned in this blog post.

  • Indoor air pollution – As the temperature drops outside, asthma sufferers spend more time indoors. That means more exposure to indoor air pollution, including dust mites, pet dander, and mold spores. Investing in a quality air filter and keeping the windows open as much as possible can mitigate these risks, as can keep your home as clean as possible.
  • Cold air – Wintertime in Arizona can be warm but it also has some extreme periods of cold and frost, so plan your outdoor adventures carefully. You can reduce the asthma risk by dressing in warm clothes, paying attention to your breathing symptoms, and limiting exposure to extremely cold temperatures.
  • Fireplaces – Lighting a fire in the fireplace or enjoying your outdoor fire pit may be romantic, but for asthma sufferers, it could also be dangerous. The smoke from indoor fires as well as firepits can trigger asthma attacks, so limit your exposure or choose gas fire instead.

Asthma attacks can happen at any time of year, and every new season brings additional dangers. If you or a loved one suffers from this chronic and potentially fatal lung disease, it pays to be cautious, and always be on the watch and bring inhalers with you. Knowing the triggers, having the right type of inhaler and knowing the warning signs of an asthma attack can help you protect yourself or the ones you love, so you can enjoy all the great things every new season has to offer.

About Us

If you’re suffering from allergies, we can help. The asthma specialists at Adult & Pediatric Allergy Associates, P.C. have helped thousands of patients in the Phoenix Metro area breathe easier. You too deserve to live a life that is free of allergies!  Contact us today at 602-242-4592, schedule an appointment at one of our 5 convenient Valley-wide locations.

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6 Indoor Plants To Avoid If You Think You Have Allergies

6 Indoor Plants To  Avoid If You Think You Have Allergies

No one can imagine a beautifully decorated home without a few well-kept houseplants. Not to mention that taking care of a plant has a multitude of benefits for both the body and the soul. But, what if nature’s little wonders seem to wreak havoc to your immune system? If you are an allergy sufferer, you may think that all plants are potentially harmful to you. In truth, some indoor plants are more likely to cause allergies than others.

Here are a few examples of plants you should avoid having in your home or workspace.

1. Bonsai

Bonsai Tree

Those mini trees look really amazing though certain types of bonsai (juniper, cedar) could cause a lot of trouble to people allergic to birch. They also need careful pruning and shaping, which means that you should always wear gloves when caring for them to avoid skin irritation.

Weeping Fig

2. Weeping Fig

This species is beautiful and easy to care for, but also one of the most common indoor sources of allergens after dust mites and pets. Particles from the leaves, trunk, and sap of the plant can cause a reaction similar to latex allergy. All in all, it’s best to avoid this plant altogether.

Male Palms and Yuccas

3. Male Palms and Yuccas

Male palms tend to produce a lot of pollen, which can spread very easily into your home. Still, if you have set your heart on an indoor palm, make sure you get a tree that only produces female flowers. Yuccas, while quite popular for both outdoors and indoors, present a similar risk to palm trees.

Fern

4. Fern

If your allergy or asthma symptoms seem to get worse indoors, the spores released from your fern could be responsible. This is another allergenic plant that can also cause a rash that resembles poison ivy skin irritation.

African-Violet-Blossoms

5. African Violet

Those deep purple blossoms are hard to resist. Nevertheless, they come with fuzzy leaves that gather a lot of dust. A simple solution would be to regularly wipe the leaves down with a damp cloth. However, if you are very sensitive to dust, choose another flower for your home.

Chrysanthemum

6. Chrysanthemum

While the colorful fall blossoms are typically found outdoors, you may be tempted to add them to a vase and brighten up your favorite room. Before you do that keep in mind that this flower is related to ragweed, a common plant responsible for many seasonal allergies.

So, are there any hypoallergenic houseplants?

Living with hay fever or asthma doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a little bit of gardening. On the contrary, some plants can help you clean the air in your home and reduce your exposure to allergens. Some hypoallergenic plants are marginata, peace lily, dracaena, mother-in-law’s tongue, golden pothos, philodendron, and others.

Remember to always choose your houseplants carefully and add them to your living space one at a time to monitor possible allergic reactions. Moreover, don’t neglect to wear gloves when caring for your plants and spray their leaves with water regularly.

Recommended Reading

“Desert Plants Causing Havoc for Arizona Allergy Sufferers” : allergyarizona.net/desert-plants-causing-havoc-for-arizona-allergy-suffers/

“5 Tips for Preventing Hay Fever in Arizona”: allergyarizona.net/tips-for-preventing-hay-fever-in-arizona/

Reis, A. ” Allergies to Houseplants”, beyondallergy.com/indoor-allergies/allergies-to-house-plants.php.

Baley, Anne. ” Low Allergy Houseplants: Which Houseplants relieve allergies”: gardeningknowhow.com/houseplants/hpgen/houseplants-for-allergies.htm.

Written by the Arizona allergy and asthma specialists, Adult and Pediatric Allergy Associates, P.C. If you are visiting or live in the Phoenix area and may be suffering from chronic or seasonal allergies, please contact us for an appointment by calling 602-242-4592.

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4 Important Tips to Prevent Childhood Asthma Attacks

4 Important Tips to Prevent Childhood Asthma Attacks

If your child suffers from asthma, you are probably already aware of some of the triggers. Any number of things can trigger an asthma attack – from the fumes coming out of your fireplace to the secondhand smoke wafting through your home. We recently wrote a blog on how to reduce asthma problems by changing your child’s diet, but in this blog, we want to discuss several other ways to help your kids deal with this deadly disease.

You already know that keeping these triggers to a minimum is one of the best ways to keep those asthma attacks reduced. While nothing can eliminate all asthma attacks, making a few changes around your home can make your child healthier and happier.

Eliminate Secondhand Smoke

Eliminate Secondhand Smoke

According to experts, smoke is as dangerous or even more dangerous than direct smoking, and children are especially susceptible to its negative effects.

Smoke is one of the most powerful asthma triggers – and one of the easiest to avoid. Simply living in a home where smokers are lighting up can significantly increase the odds of an asthma attack. If your child has asthma, you owe it to yourself and your family to completely cut out the secondhand smoke.

That means not allowing smoking inside your home, even when the asthma sufferer is not present. The fumes from those cigarettes can linger throughout the home – in the curtains, in the carpets and even in your child’s toys. Making sure that no one – from parents and relatives to caregivers and visitors – smokes inside your home is one of the most effective ways to keep those asthma attacks at bay.

Watch Those Household Chemicals

The average home is filled with chemicals – from the pesticide sprays, you use in the garden to the glass cleaner you use on your windows. Those household chemicals may not bother you, but they could be a real trigger for someone with asthma.

It is a good idea to limit the kind and amount of chemicals you use around the home – and to look for natural alternatives wherever and whenever you can. Those natural cleansers can be just as effective as the chemical kind – and much less likely to trigger an asthma attack.

Keep it Clean

Cleanliness is essential in a home where an asthma sufferer lives. Phoenix desert dust mites, mold, mildew, roof rats, and other contaminants can trigger asthma attacks – especially in children. Keeping those contaminants at bay is a great way to reduce asthma attacks and protect your child.

That means washing sheets, pillowcases, and other bedding frequently to limit the number of dust mites in the bedroom. It also means keeping cockroaches and cats (pet fur is not good either!) at bay by always storing leftovers in airtight containers – or in the refrigerator. If you do spot household pests, use closed baits and traps – avoid spray pesticides that could trigger an asthma attack.

You can help prevent mold and mildew in your home by immediately fixing any cracks or leaks you find. Watch for signs of water damage, and always investigate any wet spots. Running the exhaust fan every time, you take a shower can also reduce the growth of mold and mildew.

Shield Your Lungs from Pollen

When the sun is shining and the pavement is hot enough to fry an egg, just walking outside could trigger an asthma attack in a vulnerable individual. Asthma sufferers are more likely to suffer respiratory problems than those who do not suffer from asthma and having a basic understanding of pollinating plants and their associated pollen counts could be critical.

A number of plants common in the Phoenix metro area are huge sources of pollen, not just in the hot summer months but all year long. For homeowners mowing their lawns and irrigating their yards, weeds are a big problem. Simply watering the grass or spraying the weeds could send pollen particles flying, so it is important for asthma sufferers to protect themselves.

Other sources of pollen can hide in our lush greenbelts and desert mountain preserves. If you love to hike and spend time outdoors, researching pollen counts before you head out could be a smart move. You can also use information about high pollen counts to time your hikes and choose trails that are less likely to trigger your respiratory issues.

Phoenix is a wonderful place to be, and it is blessed with amazing natural beauty. You do not have to hide indoors or avoid the great things the area has to offer. All you need is a healthy dose of common sense and some basic knowledge.

Making a few simple changes around your home can significantly reduce the number of asthma issues your child suffers from. These changes are not difficult to make, and they can help the asthma sufferer in your home enjoy a more comfortable life, and avoid a deadly attack.

If you need more help and live in the Phoenix area, please contact our asthma and allergy office for an appointment with one of our Board Certified doctors.  We have 5 locations in the Valley to serve you and your family- and are known for the care and experience when working with children!

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Pregnancy Breathing Issues: Is it normal shortness of breath or is it Asthma

Pregnancy Breathing Issues: Is it normal shortness of breath or is it Asthma

It can be difficult determining when to be concerned about asthma during pregnancy because it’s hard to tell if your breathing is normal or if you’re having an asthma attack.

Being pregnant changes a woman’s body and it’s common to become short of breath as the pregnancy progresses. This doesn’t mean that you can’t have a normal, healthy pregnancy just because you suffer from asthma. You will, however, need to keep a close eye on your symptoms and take steps to keep it under control.

Why Shortness of Breath occurs:

Understanding how being pregnant affects the body will help you determine when being short of breath is normal and when there is reason for concern. As you begin to gain weight the body starts going through changes to accommodate for the extra weight. The lungs must work harder, so the number of times you breathe in per minute will increase and become more rapid. As the baby grows your stomach pushes up on the diaphragm, which also makes it more difficult to breathe.

Warning Signs – When to Be Concerned about Asthma during Pregnancy

Since being pregnant can affect your breathing, you don’t want to become alarmed every time you become a little short of breath, but you do need to know how to tell when your symptoms are severe enough for concern. If you notice some of the signs of asthma listed below, it may be cause for concern:

•   If it becomes difficult to perform everyday tasks that you normally do while pregnant because it’s harder for you to breathe than usual.

•   Coughing at night that keeps you awake

•   If it becomes painful to breathe for no apparent reason.

•   If you’re talking on the phone and you hear yourself wheezing, you may have a problem.

•   If your medication doesn’t provide improvement right away or if you realize you need to take it more often.

•   If you notice a decrease in the number of kicks you feel from your unborn baby and you’re having problems breathing, this could be a sign of fetal distress and cause for concern.

Get Urgent Medical Attention:

If you notice any of these warning signs, it’s recommended you see your health care provider as soon as possible. This is a critical time for you and your unborn baby. Having an asthma attack when pregnant can cause serious complications for both of you. Therefore, no asthma symptoms should be ignored, even if you’re not sure of its serious. 

What if you already have asthma and get pregnant?

Since being pregnant can change the severity of your asthma attacks and no one knows how you’ll be affected, it’s important to use your own judgment. If something doesn’t feel normal or your symptoms seem worse than they should be, then it’s reason for concern.

Having a serious asthma attack can be harmful to your unborn child. If you feel uneasy about your symptoms, see your doctor. If you believe you may be having an asthma attack, seek help immediately. Use your own judgment for when to be concerned about asthma during pregnancy and if it doesn’t feel right, see your doctor.

Looking for an asthma clinic near you? We serve patients in Phoenix, Scottsdale, Glendale, Avondale, and Anthem. Call today at 602-242-4592, or book an appointment immediately online here!

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Reducing Asthma Symptoms in Children with a Change in Diet

Reducing Asthma Symptoms in Children with a Change in Diet

Parents who would like to help reduce asthma symptoms in their children without medication, or additional medication, may be able to accomplish this goal through a change in diet. Parents may even be able to help prevent asthma in their youngsters with the right meal plan. Several studies confirm the benefits for children of eating plenty of fatty fish, vegetables and fruits, while avoiding unhealthy foods.

Why Are Fatty Fish Important in the Diet?

Why Are Fatty Fish Important in the Diet for Asthma Prevention

Some examples of these fish, also called oily fish, include salmon, tuna, sardines, herring and mackerel. They contain high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, which are recognized for anti-inflammation benefits for the cardiovascular system. These nutrients help prevent and manage heart disease. That’s a primary reason so many people take fish oil supplements. The American Heart Association advises people to eat at least two servings of fish, preferably oily fish, every week.

Some examples of these fish, also called oily fish, include salmon, tuna, sardines, herring and mackerel. They contain high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, which are recognized for anti-inflammation benefits for the cardiovascular system. These nutrients help prevent and manage heart disease. That’s a primary reason so many people take fish oil supplements. The American Heart Association advises people to eat at least two servings of fish, preferably oily fish, every week.

Asthma and Inflammation

Asthma symptoms are caused by inflammation in the airways that cause air passages to become narrower temporarily. With uncontrolled asthma, the person sometimes has difficulty breathing, with symptoms of wheezing, chest tightness and coughing. Patients generally carry rescue inhalers in addition to their other asthma medication in case they experience an uncomfortable, and perhaps severe, attack. 

Reducing Symptoms

Research published in the October 2018 issue of the Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics focused on the advantages of eating at least two servings of fatty fish per day for the anti-inflammation qualities. The children in the study ate a Mediterranean diet, which is known for a daily menu emphasizing vegetables, whole grains and fruit, along with a small amount of low-fat dairy foods, eggs and lean meat.

After six months, the participants who had been eating the Mediterranean diet with two servings of oily fish per week experienced significant improvement in lung function compared with participants who ate a more standard diet.

Prevention 

Authors of research appearing in PLOS One in 2013, from the Public Library of Science, looked at several studies focusing on how consuming omega-3 fatty acids affects the development of asthma. They found that children who consumed more omega-3 fatty acids had a significantly lower risk of developing asthma. However, this was not true for adults.

Expert Insight

An article published in the journal Nutrients in 2017 discussed the differences between the standard American diet and the Mediterranean diet, and how these types of eating patterns can influence asthma symptoms. The typical American diet is characterized by a high intake of numerous foods associated with increased inflammation in the body. These include red meat, processed meat, fast food, deep-fried food, high-fat food, sugary substances and refined grains like low-fiber bread and pasta. 

What to Do Next Regarding your Children Suffering from Asthma

When parents realize their children are eating a relatively large amount of unhealthy foods, it’s time to make some major changes to the menu. They might try serving a different species of fatty fish each week so everyone can try the various flavors. A usual favorite can be served on another day. Boosting the intake of veggies, fruit and whole grains will be advantageous, and so will minimizing going to fast-food restaurants and serving too many foods with added sugar.

When children already have symptoms of asthma, their parents can seek diagnosis and treatment for these youngsters at Adult & Pediatric Allergy Associates in metropolitan Phoenix

Please note that this article is for education purposes, and does not constitute medical advice.  Please see an asthma doctor or your PCP before changing medications or modifying your diet.

See also related posts

Tired of dealing with asthma?

Respiratory Illness in Children- Advice from an Allergy Doctor

10 Common Myths about Allergies and Asthma

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