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 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.
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
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
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!
Phoenix Allergies are on the Rise Right Now
With summer heat moving on and our Arizona “cool” fall is approaching, another allergy season is soon be upon us!
Unfortunately, spring is not the only time when asthma and allergies are on the rise. Our late summer rain in July and August means more grasses and weeds and, consequently, an increased pollen count this fall and winter. Moreover, temperature inversions contribute to air pollution, another factor that affects allergies like the common hay fever. At the same time, there’s an increase in asthma symptoms that coincides with our children going back to school.
Allergies and asthma have undoubtedly become more prevalent during the last few years. Major cities are turning into allergy hot spots, and Phoenix is no exception. In fact, in extensive study of allergies across the country in 2011, Phoenix ranked the second worst city for allergen sensitizations, right after Dallas. The allergens examined included food, the common ragweed, house dust mites, mold, and pets.
Why an Allergy and Asthma Check Up is so Important Now
When it comes to allergies and asthma, being proactive is crucial. It’s important to remember that allergies are not static-they evolve over time and are greatly influenced by lifestyle changes and age. Nevertheless, with the right preparation, you will be able to treat your symptoms effectively or prevent them altogether in some cases.
Visiting your allergist right now will give you a chance to:
1) evaluate the effectiveness of your treatment,
2) adjust your medication if necessary, and
3) update your medical history.
Children can also benefit from a check up right as school is starting
Finally, this is a great time for first visits if you suspect you have an allergy that will trouble you as soon as allergy season hits!
How to Prepare for Your Visit to the Allergist’s Office
Before your appointment, talk to your doctor about any medication you might be taking. ALERT: Antihistamines interfere with allergy testing, so the general recommendation is to avoid them for seven days prior to testing. However, this may vary for specific medicines, so remember to follow your doctor’s specific instructions.
Psychiatric medications are another category that might affect skin tests. However, you should never stop taking your prescription without your psychiatrist’s permission. Finally, if you take beta-blockers, which might make testing riskier, your allergist will consult your cardiologist to have you stop them for a few days right before your visit.
There are no special preparations for the actual visit, however, it’s a good idea to wear comfortable clothing to make skin testing on your arm or back easier. Remember to provide your doctor with as much information as possible about changes to your symptoms, the effectiveness of your medication, or anything else relevant. Also, think about any questions you might have and prepare them beforehand. Don’t hesitate to ask for additional information or any educational materials that might be available for patients (which a good allergy specialist should provide).
What to Expect at the Allergist’s Office
Your first visit to a certified Arizona allergist will include a physical examination and communicating your complete medical history. This is a crucial step and you should try to be as thorough as possible. Remember to bring any relevant medical documents with you. Be sure to mention any childhood allergies, your current symptoms, as well as any medication you might be taking. A detailed picture of your condition will help your doctor determine which allergens may be responsible and test you specifically for them.
Allergy tests are suitable for people of all ages, including children. Skin tests are by far the most common. They are reliable, and provide fast results. Examples include the skin prick test, the intradermal, and the patch test. Blood tests are also available for investigating allergies, but these are more expensive and you will have to wait several days for your results. Nonetheless, blood testing is useful occasionally. When allergen exposure during a skin test could result in a severe reaction, when a patient suffers from a severe skin condition like eczema, or they cannot stop taking medication prior to testing, blood tests are a good alternative.
Why Repeating Your Allergy Test is Important
Your doctor may recommend retesting in some cases. If, for example, you are on medication and your symptoms return, change or worsen, or if you develop symptoms in a new season, you will most likely need to repeat your tests. Furthermore, people often develop new allergies over time, so it is necessary to identify these new triggers and pick up anything that previous tests might have missed. Another appropriate time for retesting is before beginning an immunotherapy plan. Your doctor will most likely want to check again for specific allergens before administering allergy shots.
Dealing with allergies and asthma is not just about treating the symptoms. A well-thought plan designed by you and your doctor will keep you one step ahead of your allergies. With the right preparation, you will be able to deal with this fall’s allergies and improve your quality of life significantly. So, don’t delay your appointment with your allergist this summer.
WATCH – Why allergy season gets worse every year
“Allergy and Asthma in the Southwestern United States”. allergy.peds.arizona.edu, University of Arizona, Health Sciences Center, Sept. 2012, allergy.peds.arizona.edu/southwest/advice_fall.html. Accessed 5 July 2018.
“Allergy Testing”. acaai.org, American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, acaai.org/allergies/treatment/allergy-testing. Accessed 5 July 2018.
“Allergy Testing”. asthma.net, Health Union, asthma.net/diagnosis/allergy-testing/. Accessed 5 July 2018.
“Allergy Tests and Asthma”. webmd.com, Webmd, webmd.com/asthma/guide/allergy-tests-and-asthma#1. Accessed 5 July 2018.
“How often should I be retested for allergies?”. acaai.org, American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, acaai.org/resources/connect/ask-allergist/Allergy-Testing. Accessed 5 July 2018.
Nath, Ishani. “How to Prepare For Your First Visit to the Allergist”. allergicliving.com, Allergic Living, 4 May 2017, allergicliving.com/2017/05/04/how-to-prepare-for-your-first-visit-to-the-allergist/. Accessed 5 July 2018.
Quest Diagnostics Health Trends. Allergies Across America: The Largest Study of Allergy Testing in the United States, 2011 [online], questdiagnostics.com/dms/Documents/Other/2011_QD_AllergyReport.pdf. Accessed 5 July 2018.
“Will my medication affect the results of my skin test?”. acaai.org, American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, acaai.org/resources/connect/ask-allergist/Allergy-Testing. Accessed 5 July 2018.
Spring has Sprung! Are desert allergies wreaking havoc? Learn here which medicine is better to use… Flonase or Zyrtec
There are several antihistamines for allergies on the market today. It can be difficult to choose the one that’s right for your needs. It’s a good idea to take a close look at each one so that you understand what it has to offer.
Two of the most commonly used allergy medications are Flonase® and Zyrtec®. Both have distinct benefits. Each one also has features that may make it a poor choice, depending on your age, health, and other important factors. Both medications are over-the-counter, questions you have concerning either one, can be addressed by your physician.
Flonase is an allergy medication that, by all reports works well in patients who choose to use it. It comes in the form of a nasal spray and has few known side effects. Because it is administered directly into the sinuses, the medication doesn’t travel widely throughout the body.
One of the main drawbacks many people report is nosebleeds. Nosebleeds become more common as usage of the medication increases. Its primary use is the control of upper respiratory allergy symptoms that include sneezing and runny nose. People who have experienced traumatic injuries to their nose or nasal passages shouldn’t use Flonase. It is also believed to arrest the growth rate in children.
Zyrtec is also one of the many popular antihistamines for allergies. It is taken once a day, allowing 24-hour relief of most allergy symptoms. Because the medication is released into the system slowly there is less risk of drowsiness. In addition to being effective at treating common allergy symptoms like sneezing, itchy eyes and a runny nose, it also helps to control skin rashes and hives. It offers quick relief of most symptoms and can be taken by both adults and children with few side effects. It can be purchased in liquid form, tablets and dissolving tablets that melt quickly when placed under the tongue. Zyrtec has very few drug interactions and can be taken along with other medications.
Which Antihistamines for Allergies Is the Best?
Both Flonase and Zyrtec are antihistamines for allergies and work well when used by the right people and in the right situations. Everyone is different when it comes to taking medications. Although Zyrtec is extremely popular, it has a tendency to decrease in effectiveness the longer it is used. If you are unsure as to which medication best suits your needs, talk to your doctor. He or she will be able to answer any question you may have and be more equipped to help you choose the right antihistamine for your particular symptoms. Working with your doctor will prevent you from taking a medication you don’t need or overusing one that you do.
If you have questions or concerns about any medication you are taking, especially antihistamines for allergies, contact the medical professionals at Adult & Pediatric Allergy Associates. They can answer your questions and get you on the medication to stop the symptoms from reappearing. Don’t risk taking the wrong medication or taking too much of the right one.
Schedule an appointment today to get the answers you need!
About our Ozone and Allergies
Ozone is a reactive gas that is composed of three oxygen atoms (O3). It can be either natural or man-made. Natural ozone is created by oxygen in the atmosphere interacting with UV radiation; this is how the Earth’s ozone layer was created. Up in the atmosphere, ozone works to filter UV radiation and keep it from reaching the Earth’s surface. Man-made ozone results from reactions between volatile organic compounds and nitrogen oxides. VOCs can come from chemical plants, gasoline pumps, oil-based paints, auto body shops, and print shops. Nitrogen oxides often come from high temperature combustion, sources of which include power plants, industrial furnaces and boilers, and motor vehicles.
While high ozone levels are typically associated with large urban areas, they can occur anywhere. Ozone can travel for hundreds of miles on wind patterns, settling in new areas far away from where it originated. This also means high ozone levels can occur at any time of the day or night, though they risk being the highest in the afternoon during the heat of the day.
Because of its reactive qualities, ozone that is inhaled can react with the tissues and biological molecules present in the respiratory tract. This can lead to severe inflammation of the respiratory passages, decrease lung function, and induce respiratory symptoms. Those symptoms include:
- throat irritation
- chest pain, burning, or discomfort when taking a breath
- chest tightness, wheezing, or shortness of breath
In addition, research has shown that higher levels of ozone in the air can lead to increased asthma attacks, hospitalizations, and risk of death. Ozone can trigger asthma attacks, increase sensitivity to asthma triggers, and aggravate existing asthma symptoms.
Ozone Standards Implementation Act of 2016:
With all of that in mind, let’s take a look at H.R. 4775. While its detractors call it the ‘Smoggy Skies Act’, its official name is the ‘Ozone Standards Implementation Act of 2016‘. The bill is a direct answer to the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) set by the EPA. By revising these standards as they are currently written in the Clean Air Act, this bill will do a couple of things:
First, it will delay the clean air standards set by the EPA in 2015, extending the deadline for compliance until October 26, 2024. In addition, it will delay the EPA declaring areas of the states as ‘attainment’, ‘non-attainment’, or ‘unclassifiable’ under the 2015 NAAQS regulations until 2025.
Second, it will change the EPA’s review cycle for criteria pollutants from a 5 year cycle to a 10 year cycle, with the next review not being allowed before October 26, 2025. And prior to establishing any new regulations, the EPA must meet with its advisory committee to assess the benefits and costs associated with making changes to the NAAQS.
How will H.R. 4775 Impact Allergy Sufferers:
So what will this mean if you suffer from asthma or other respiratory allergies? It means the clean air requirements that were established by the EPA in 2015 will have their implementation delayed until at least 2024. Supporters of the bill may cite the costs of retrofitting manufacturing facilities to meet these higher air quality standards on relatively short notice, and they may also cite the costs of retrofitting old factories to meet these new standards. It could potentially mean that manufacturing facilities in U.S. cities with the worst air quality will have more time to retrofit their facilities to meet the new requirements, leading to many more years of individuals suffering increased allergy and asthma attacks due to pollution. It could also potentially weaken the Clean Air Act’s limits on other potentially dangerous pollutants, such as Carbon Monoxide, lead, nitrogen dioxide, and sulfur dioxide, leading to an increase in those pollutants in the air.
Info brought to you by your staff from Adult & Pediatric Allergy Associates, P.C..