According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, asthma and allergic diseases, such as allergic rhinitis (hay fever), food allergy, and eczema, are common for all age groups in the United States. Asthma affects more than 24 million people in the United States, including more than 6 million children.
What are some of the major triggers for spring allergies? As the flowers, weeds, trees, grass and other plants begin to bloom, they release pollen, which is the most obvious springtime allergy trigger. Other triggers can include air pollution and temperature changes. Allergic reactions can cause symptoms in your nose, lungs, throat, sinuses, ears, lining of the stomach or on the skin.
Allergies also can trigger asthma, a chronic disease involving the airways in the lungs, making it more difficult to breathe. According to the American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology, allergic asthma is the most common form of asthma.
So, how do you avoid your triggers during the spring, but still enjoy the great outdoors?
1. Be sure to check the outdoor quality daily. The quality of air outdoors that we breathe affects each of us, but for someone with asthma it may prompt an attack. If you are planning to take a walk, remember to check the environment first and be aware of any triggers that might be lurking. Check out https://airnow.gov/ which provides maps you can pull up to view the air quality in your state and area.
2. If yardwork is on your list, find out the pollen count before mowing the lawn or gardening. Pollen is most active between 5 a.m. and 10 a.m., according to the Weather Channel website, weather. com. Freshly cut grass and fertilizers may exacerbate asthma symptoms. To find out pollen counts you can download an app, such as the one from the Weather Channel, to check local counts.
3. Protect yourself from allergens when you are working outside. To protect from breathing in tiny particles, you can wear a particle mask, which may be found at the local hardware store.
4. While you definitely want to protect yourself from mosquitoes during the spring, citronella candles and bug spray may trigger an asthma episode. To avoid that from happening, try staying several feet away from strong smelling candles and use non-fragranced lotions instead of aerosols for mosquito repellent.
5. Always take your medication as prescribed, even if you are feeling well. Limiting your exposure to allergic triggers is good, but it can’t eliminate them all. Be sure you use your allergy controller medications. If you do have asthma, make sure you carry your quick-relief medicine in case of a flare-up.
As you continue through spring, be sure to keep your physician informed if you begin having trouble keeping your asthma or allergy symptoms under control. He or she can help to devise a plan to minimize asthma flares and make your spring more enjoyable.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Dr. Mohamed Swedeh is board certified in pulmonary disease and critical care medicine. Dr. Swedeh is medical director of the pulmonary medicine department at Fisher-Titus Medical Center and is also member of the medical staff at Fisher-Titus. He practices at Fisher-Titus Pulmonary Medicine in Norwalk.