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.
Allergies and asthma are becoming increasingly common and affect a substantial portion of the population around the globe, and especially in Arizona. Even in cases of a mild allergy, proper diagnosis and management are essential. Unfortunately, the prevalence of specific misconceptions prevents many people from getting the care they need.
Here are 10 common myths about asthma and allergies you might have thought were true.
1. Allergies are harmless
Allergies are a serious problem that has become more prominent in recent years. No fewer than one in five people will develop an allergy at some point during their lifetime. If left untreated, allergies can have a very negative impact on quality of life. Allergic rhinitis, for instance, causes fatigue, sleepiness, and irritability. Sufferers often find it hard to concentrate, and this, in turn, affects their work or school performance. Furthermore, allergies to foods, drugs, and insects can cause anaphylaxis. This systemic allergic reaction can potentially be life-threatening.
2. Asthma is not fatal
Unfortunately, this is not the case. Asthma deaths have been on the increase recently. According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, 10 people die of asthma each day in the country. Adults are four times more likely to have a fatal asthma attack than children. In 2015, asthma accounted for 3,615 deaths, many of which proper care and treatment could have prevented.
3. Asthma is a strictly emotional disorder; it’s “all in your head”
Close monitoring and regular follow-ups with a specialist are crucial, even if the symptoms are mild. The right medication will also prevent inflammation and damage to the lungs. Prevention is the most effective medicine, however, and drugs could be unnecessary in the mildest of cases or when the asthmatic person avoids the triggers that cause asthma, such as pollen, pets, or cold air. These preventive measures are often too restrictive or even impossible to adopt.
5. Allergies and asthma are curable
While there are several useful treatments available, there is not, at the moment, any permanent cure for allergies or asthma. Immunotherapy (allergy shots) is an effective way to treat specific allergies, such as allergic rhinitis (hay fever), asthma, and stinging insect allergy. However, not every allergic person responds to immunotherapy, and there is the possibility of relapse after the end of the treatment. Moreover, this type of therapy cannot treat food allergies yet.
6. All children will eventually outgrow their allergies and asthma
For some children, their asthma symptoms improve or even disappear during puberty, the most severe cases, however, can last for many years, well into adulthood. A large percentage of children with atopic dermatitis (eczema) also improve as teenagers, although they may have lifelong issues with soap and skincare products. In the case of allergic rhinitis, an 80 percent of the children still have symptoms 10 years later. Seasonal allergies are hard to outgrow, but a person’s symptoms may lessen with time.
7. If you relocate, your allergies and asthma will disappear
Moving to another climate might offer relief to some allergy sufferers. If high humidity, molds or cold air trigger your allergy, you may benefit from a warm, dry environment. The air quality in your area is also relevant. Pollution has a negative impact on allergies and could even set off an asthma attack. The bad news is, even if you relocate, your immune response will not change. You might still be exposed and react to new triggers. Allergic people tend to develop new allergies, so a new environment comes with its own risks.
8. Asthmatics should not do any form of exercise or participate in sports
Exercising is essential for everyone’s health and well-being, including people who have asthma. Physical activity strengthens your heart and respiratory system, improves your immunity, and battles stress and anxiety. Because asthmatics greatly benefit from the right kind of exercise, they should engage in it regularly; however it is true that exercise can create an asthma attack.
9. If you are continuously exposed to animals, you will become desensitized to them
In reality, if you are allergic to individual animals and your exposure increases, it is likely that your sensitivity will worsen. In some cases, if you already have an allergy and come in regular contact with indoor pets, you eventually become allergic to them as well. The best solution for relieving your symptoms would be avoiding contact with said pets altogether.
10. Some pet breeds are better for people with allergies
While the amount of allergens that a specific animal can produce varies, all members of a species can potentially be allergenic but some pets are none to be less allergen producing than others (Read this blog for details). In the case of cats, most of the allergen comes from the sebaceous glands in their skin. Dog allergens, on the other hand, are mainly found in the animal’s saliva. Even if a pet doesn’t shed hair, the allergens could still be carried into the house by dust particles. Most specialists agree that people with pet allergies shouldn’t keep them in their homes. Other animals, such as guinea pigs, mice, horses, and even exotic pets like iguanas can also trigger allergies, so there is no genuinely hypoallergenic pet.
When it comes to allergies and asthma, myths, misconceptions, and half-truths abound. It is essential for everyone, and especially for allergic people and their families to get reliable information from reputable sources, such as official allergy organizations and specialists. This will help you separate the scientifically proven from the disproven facts, and possibly improve your quality of life it the long run.
“Asthma Facts and Figures.”www.aafa.org, AAFA (Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America), February 2018, https://www.aafa.org/page/asthma-facts.aspx. Accessed 18 March 2018.
“Common Myths About Allergy and Asthma Exposed.” www.allergy.org.au, ASCIA (Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy), https://www.allergy.org.au/patients/about-allergy/common-myths-about-allergy-and-asthma-exposed. Accessed 18 March 2018.
Gupta, Sanjay. “Myths and Facts About Allergic Asthma.” www.everydayhealth.com, Ziff Davis, LLC, 27 Feb. 2014. https://www.everydayhealth.com/hs/allergic-asthma-in-adults/sanjay-gupta/allergic-asthma-myths-facts/. Accessed 18 March 2018.
Lipkowitz, Myron A., and Tova Narava. The Encyclopedia of Allergies. Facts on File, Inc., 2001 (second edition), pp. 35, 179-180.