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.
Spring is here, and with it another allergy season in Arizona has begun. Our office is very busy helping existing and new allergy patients because of the wet winter and spring.
For some this is the time to enjoy nature at its best, admiring beautiful trees and tropical desert flowers in full bloom, getting outdoors to exercise, and appreciate the time spent with family.
Nonetheless, for people who suffer from allergies and asthma, spring, (and especially this spring), can be a difficult time. Grass and tree pollination cause high pollen counts that are responsible for more severe allergic symptoms and frustrating disruptions to everyday life.
Apart from ragweed, a common allergen both in Arizona and throughout the US, several other species release considerable amounts of pollen and may contribute to your hay fever or asthma.
1. Bahia Grass (Paspalum notatum)
Bahia is a grass species that produces pollen from spring through fall, and several subspecies thrive in the southeast regions of the United States. This plant causes hay fever, allergic conjunctivitis (pinkeye), and asthma to individuals with pollen sensitivity.
2. Lamb’s Quarter (Chenopodium album)
According to Pollen Library (pollenlibrary.com), lamb’s quarter is a “noxious weed,” meaning an undesirable but also potentially harmful plant. It’s considered a moderate allergen, often responsible for allergic rhinitis and asthma symptoms.
3. Kochia (Kochia scoparia)
Also known as summer cypress or burning bush, Kochia is an annual plant that can reach six feet in height. It is a common species throughout the western and northern US, and it produces large amounts of highly allergenic windborne pollen.
4. Olive Tree (Olea europaea)
Arizona’s desert climate encourages olive tree growth. While some counties only allow fruitless cultivars to reduce pollen levels, blooming trees also exist. Olive trees pollinate from the end of April until middle or late June, but it depends on the region and climate. Their dust-like pollen can cause itching, runny eyes, congestion, and dryness.
5. Rye (Lolium perenne)
Ryegrass is a short-lived perennial plant quite different from the well-known foodstuff (Secale cereale). Its pollen is one of the leading causes of type I allergies all over the world. Like several other kinds of grass, it causes respiratory issues, headaches, and fatigue.
6. Windscale Saltbush (Atriplex canescens)
Windscale is a grayish-white shrub commonly found in the Western US. Its blooming occurs during July and August, and it’s considered one of the most important allergenic weeds.
How to Reduce Pollen Exposure
-Pay close attention to the pollen forecast. Refrain from scheduling outdoor activities when pollen counts are exceptionally high, such as on dry, windy days.
-If you have to walk around to run errands, consider wearing a pollen mask. When driving, keep your car windows rolled up and the air-conditioning on to clear the air inside your vehicle.
-Change the air filter frequently because it tends to trap a lot of pollen.
-Remember to be proactive; take your allergy medication before venturing outside to prevent your symptoms from flaring up.
Dealing with seasonal allergies and asthma can be tough; they often affect productivity and quality of life. Knowing which plants you need to avoid can help you minimize your exposure to pollen. You should also consult your allergist for further tips and instructions. And most of all, stay SAFE and HEALTHY as much as you can.
More Recommended Reading For Arizona Allergy Sufferers
Allergies to ragweed pollen are very common here in Phoenix area, with about 20 percent of people developing hay fever symptoms when this weed is flowering. The most significant problems happen in late summer and early fall. Learning more about ragweed, and seeking help our allergy team will provide relief from the worst of the symptoms.
Ragweed grows in all U.S. states but Alaska. It commonly pops up in vacant lots and along roadsides. Ragweed isn’t normally found in residential yards, but a person with hay fever should pull up weeds from the lawn before they flower if this plant does start growing there.
Unfortunately, the wind can carry this pollen a long distance because the substance is so light as compared with many other kinds of plant pollen. People can avoid some exposure to ragweed by being alert to where it grows and avoiding walking or biking by those areas if possible. Ragweed pollen counts typically are highest between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.
If your home is located near land with ragweed growing on it, windows could be kept closed on breezy days. Everyone should take their shoes off when they first come inside, as they can easily bring ragweed and other pollen in on their shoes. If you have spent much time outdoors on a day when ragweed pollen is probably prevalent, showering before bed is a good idea.
Ragweed is part of the Aster family. Although someone who is allergic to ragweed may also be allergic to asters, this person may never have symptoms because aster pollen is generally not distributed by wind, but rather by bees and other insects.
The timing for ragweed pollination depends on the region. In colder parts of the country, the plant first appears in August. Pollination may cause problems later that month and in September. In warmer realms, ragweed may start growing as early as July. Ragweed pollen can still linger into November.
Allergy Tests and Treatment
Testing should be done to confirm that the person actually is allergic to ragweed, after which time allergy shots might be advisable. This is a time-consuming process that can take more than a year for some patients, but it allows the body to gradually lose its sensitivity to a particular allergen. The body becomes tolerant of the substance and no longer produces reactive symptoms.
It can be difficult to avoid all exposure to ragweed pollen because of the unique characteristics of this allergen. Nevertheless, a person who is allergic to the substance can take steps to prevent symptoms by staying away from the plants as much as possible once they start flowering. Seeking help from a Board Certified Allergist is advisable if symptoms are particularly bothersome, or dangerous.
With the unprecedented spread of the new coronavirus (COVID-19), the world is facing a whole new set of challenges. People with asthma and allergies are especially worried as they fear their condition puts them at higher risk of developing symptoms if exposed to the virus. They are also afraid that their current symptoms will become much worse.
There are still a lot of questions about COVID-19; however, by following the recommended guidelines, you will be able to protect yourself and your loved ones and manage your asthma or allergies more effectively even amidst the new pandemic. We created this short article to help keep you healthy and safe.
Is it COVID-19, Asthma, or a Seasonal Allergy?
The first thing to remember is that you must always monitor your symptoms carefully. Allergies often cause sneezing, itchy and watery eyes, and nasal congestion. These symptoms AREN’T typically caused by COVID-19 (a runny or stuffy nose is rare).
Coughing, wheezing, and asthma flare-ups may occur in both allergic asthma, and COVID-19 so don’t disregard these symptoms. Other symptoms include weakness, aches and pains, and, occasionally, diarrhea. Check your temperature regularly- the presence of fever is a common occurrence in the coronavirus disease as well as the flu. If you notice symptoms not typical to your allergy or asthma, contact your doctor.
COVID-19 and Asthma Exacerbation
Respiratory viruses, including influenza and rhinovirus, are known to make asthma symptoms worse. At the moment, scientists don’t know if the coronavirus is one of those viruses that can cause more severe asthma symptoms. There are also no clear indications that asthmatic individuals have a higher risk of contracting COVID-19. However, asthma is one of the pre-existing conditions that could complicate COVID-19 symptoms further, so you should do everything you can to keep your symptoms in check and your immune system strong.
Recommendations For Asthma and Allergy Patients
Don’t neglect to follow CDC guidelines; make sure you have enough supplies at home to last you 14-30 days. Practice frequent hand-washing, social-distancing, and crowd avoidance. Don’t travel unless it’s absolutely necessary and, if you do, take all the recommended travel precautions. You should also clean your home using a disinfectant, paying close attention to objects and surfaces that you or others often touch.
There is no evidence that allergy and asthma medications increase the risk of being infected by COVID-19, so you must keep taking your medicine and follow your Asthma Action Plan if you have one. This time of year, increased levels of pollen can make symptoms much worse, so if you feel that you can’t control your asthma or allergy, contact your allergist immediately. Together you will be able to adjust your treatment and update your action plan.
COVID-19 is a new enemy, and we still don’t know everything about it. Nevertheless, when it comes to health and disease prevention, you cannot err on the side of caution. So, if you have unaddressed asthma or severe allergy, don’t delay contacting an allergist, getting tested, and start on a treatment plan to manage your symptoms, protect yourself, and improve your health and life.
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.