Fall is Here!
Are Your Symptoms Under Control?
Now that summer has come to an end, it’s time to think about the new school year, fall allergies, and cooler weather. This is also a time when people with asthma may notice a change in their condition. Being prepared for these changes can make a big difference in keeping your or your child’s asthma well controlled.
Asthma & The New School Year
It is important for your child and the school staff to be prepared for managing asthma at school. The school staff should have information on how to help prevent symptoms and what to do if your child has symptoms.
Ask your doctor for a written asthma action plan for the school. This plan should include what medicine to use to treat asthma symptoms and changes in peak flow zones and what medicine to use as a pretreatment before exercise. Also include information on what makes your child’s asthma worse, his or her asthma symptoms, and emergency telephone numbers.
Plan a meeting with school staff. Your child also can be involved in the meeting. Take the written asthma action plan to the meeting. Helpful school staff members to have at the meeting are the school nurse, health aide, teacher, and physical education teacher. Topics to discuss at the meeting include
- What makes asthma worse, especially in the school setting
- Asthma symptoms, including your child’s awareness of symptoms
- Peak flow use (if used by your child), including technique and the use of peak flow zones
- Use of quick-relief medicine at school, including correct technique
- Who to call if the quick-relief medicine is not improving asthma symptoms or peak flow zones
The written asthma action plan will outline these steps. Discuss whether your child is responsible enough to keep the quick-relief medicine with him or her. If not, the quick-relief medicine should be quickly accessible when asthma symptoms occur at school.
Weeds and molds often cause fall allergies. Some seasons produce more pollen from weeds or mold spores because of weather conditions.
Continue talking with your child and school staff about managing asthma at school on a regular basis, even if everything is fine at school. Talk with your child’s doctor about when to keep him or her home from school due to worsening of asthma or illness. Mild asthma symptoms can often be handled at school. Talk with the school staff if your child misses school or homework.
Freedom From Fall Allergies
Weeds and molds often cause fall allergies. Some seasons produce more pollen from weeds or mold spores because of weather conditions. One of the primary weeds responsible for allergy symptoms is ragweed. A lot of rain in the spring and early summer, followed by sunny, hot days tend to produce more ragweed. Rainy days and piles of wet leaves lead to more mold growth.
If weed pollens or molds cause your allergy symptoms, plan outdoor activities for early in the day, as weed pollens are highest around midday. If you are outdoors during high pollen counts, take a shower, wash your hair, and change your clothes when you come indoors. If possible, keep windows and outside doors shut during pollen season. This is very important when pollen and mold counts are high. These counts are often reported on the TV news and in the newspaper. Stay away from wet leaves and garden trash.
Take the medicine your doctor recommends. Many different medicines are available to help control allergy symptoms when you can’t avoid the things to which you are allergic. Keep in mind that allergy medicines work best when you take them every day, and it is best to start taking them before you are exposed to high levels of pollen or mold. Most doctors recommend that you start an antihistamine when the allergy season begins and continue taking it every day until allergy season is over. When allergy season is in full swing and your immune system is in high gear, medicines are less effective and take longer to relieve symptoms.
Weathering Fall Weather
Fall is a season when a lot of weather changes can occur. Be prepared for changes in temperature and rainy days by having a sweater, jacket, or rain gear with you. With cooler weather approaching, this is also a good time to have your furnace checked and the filters replaced. In addition, it’s almost time for the yearly flu shot, so start watching for locations and times when flu shots will be given. Fall is a very busy time of year for most people. Keeping your allergies & asthma under control can help you enjoy this beautiful season.
Source: National Jewish Health, www.nationaljewish.org
This article was originally published in Coping® with Allergies & Asthma magazine, September/October 2011.