The novel coronavirus known as COVID-19 has many symptoms and a plethora of potential complications, but at its core it is a respiratory virus. That means children and adults with asthma and chronic allergies are at higher risk from COVID-19, as the combination of two respiratory illnesses can quickly turn a mild infection into a life-threatening one.
If you or someone you love has asthma or allergies, you need to be especially vigilant about preventing COVID-19. That means limiting exposure to those outside your immediate household, wearing a mask when in public and watching closely for the symptoms of the novel coronavirus. Those early warning signs1 include:
Fever and chills
Cough and shortness of breath
Sudden loss of taste and/or smell
Tiredness or weakness
Muscle or body aches
Vomiting or nausea
Runny or stuffy nose
COVID-19 can also present with more unusual symptoms, including painful purple or blue lesions on the toes, rashes or hives, and pinkeye. If you or a family member experiences any of these symptoms, it is important to seek help, and a COVID-19 test, right away.
Higher Severity in Those with Allergies and Asthma
Keep in mind that COVID-19 can be especially severe in asthma and allergy patients, with rapid acceleration in the severity of symptoms. You should call 911 if the individual in question experiences trouble breathing or shortness of breath, persistent pain or pressure in their chest, confusion, loss of consciousness, or a bluish tint to their face, lips, or fingernails. These are all life-threatening symptoms, and help simply cannot wait.
It is not always easy to determine where a COVID-19 infection came from, since the incubation period for the virus ranges from as few as two days to as many as two weeks following exposure. What is important for asthma sufferers is not where the virus came from, but how to get the appropriate treatment and protect other vulnerable family members.
Asthma, Allergies, and COVID-19
The novel coronavirus affects asthma2 sufferers and those with allergies differently, and loved ones need to understand the distinction. Since the virus mainly infects the lungs, those with preexisting respiratory conditions, including asthma and allergies, are at a higher risk for serious complications and even death.
Family members can all do their part to protect the health and wellbeing of those with allergies, asthma, and other respiratory conditions. Steps loved ones can take include washing hands frequently, especially after coming back from running errands or picking up groceries, maintaining quality indoor air through the use of filtration devices, and making sure allergy sufferers and family members with asthma keep taking their medication. Asthma medication can improve lung function in those with the disease, and that can reduce the risk of serious complications from a COVID-19 infection.
Everyone is hoping for a quick end to the COVID-19 crisis, but for now, all asthma sufferers and those with asthma can do is protect themselves as much as possible. If you or someone you love suffers from asthma or allergies, that mean watching for early signs and symptoms, practicing good hand hygiene and ensuring medication compliance. And if you are concerned about a family member with asthma or allergies, we encourage you to contact the expert Board Certified physicians at Adult and Pediatric Allergy Associates, P.C..
Asthma is a chronic respiratory illness marked by wheezing, shortness of breath, and overall difficulty in breathing. The disease interrupts the daily routines of millions of people, and in severe cases, puts their lives at risk. There is no cure, but there are a variety of ways to treat the symptoms. While nothing can replace medications prescribed by a doctor, these four methods can be easily incorporated into your life to better maintain your asthma.
1) Keep an Asthma Trigger Journal
For people who live with asthma, knowing what triggers their attacks can offer some clues on how to better manage the symptoms and prevent further episodes. While attacks may seem to come on randomly, there is always a trigger that causes airways to swell and symptoms to arise. Keep a small notebook with you at all times. If you develop symptoms, use your prescribed rescue inhaler, leave the area where the attack occurred, and write down as much about the experience as possible. Include details about where you were, what time it was, and what emotions you felt just before the attack, as well as any possible triggers you suspect, may have caused it. By keeping a record of your asthma attacks, you may be able to isolate a few common triggers that cause them. Once you understand what triggers your attacks, then you can take steps to avoid them as best as possible.
2) Clean the House
During the COVID-19 epidemic, many of us are locked down in our houses, in close spaces. Unfortunately for some people, asthma attacks can be triggered by the dust in their homes. Dust is made up of several different things that can worsen asthma symptoms, including dust mites, pet dander, and insect droppings. By keeping your house as dust-free as possible, you drastically reduce the risk of triggering an asthma attack. However, if you are asthmatic, you must take precautions when cleaning; wear a face mask when cleaning especially dusty areas, and keep the room well ventilated if using chemicals.
3) Drink Coffee for Relief
In a pinch, caffeine can be used to alleviate asthma symptoms. The National Institute of Health states that caffeine’s effects on asthma are similar to theophylline, a compound found in asthma medications which opens up airways and relieves symptoms. While caffeine does not have as strong of an impact as theophylline, research has shown that it can reduce symptoms for up to four hours. If you feel mild asthmatic symptoms but do not have access to medication, a strong cup of coffee may help you to breathe more easily. If you are having a severe asthma attack, however, do not try to use caffeine as an alternative to a rescue inhaler. If you do not have access to an inhaler during a severe attack, then you need to seek medical help right away.
4) Asthma Medications
Needless to say, medications for asthma is one of the most effective ways to control your asthma. Respiratory Inhalers which contain corticosteroids, and/or long-acting beta-agonist therapies are by prescription only treatments that can help asthma sufferers more than anything else!
When poorly managed, asthma can severely impact your daily life and overall health. Nothing will control asthma better than medication prescribed by a doctor, but you can breathe easier by incorporating these techniques along with that medication. Make an appointment now to see one of our Asthma Specialists.
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 and asthma! Contact us today at 602-242-4592 to schedule an appointment at one of our 5 convenient Valley-wide locations.
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 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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.