Enjoy the Warm Weather without the Allergy & Asthma Symptoms
With springtime upon us, many are enjoying warmer weather, flowers in bloom, and more hours of daylight. Although for some, these signs of spring also bring the common frustrations associated with allergies and asthma. Here are some tips to help you enjoy the budding spring season – without the allergy and asthma symptoms.
Identify Your Triggers
Each season comes with its own set of potential asthma and allergy triggers. A trigger can be something in the environment like pollen, a chemical that you are exposed to, stress, or emotions. In order to control your allergies and asthma, it is important to know what may trigger your symptoms and how to limit your exposure to that trigger. Dust mite excretion, pollen, and pet dander are all common allergens and are known triggers for people with asthma. Work with your healthcare provider to identify what may be causing your asthma and allergy symptoms.
Warmer weather brings increased outdoor activity and the threat of seasonal triggers.
Get Ready, Get Set, Get Outside
Warmer weather brings increased outdoor activity and the threat of seasonal triggers. As flowers begin to bloom, pollen and air quality may play a role in your efforts to control asthma and allergy symptoms. Common springtime triggers found outside may include pollen, flowers, weeds, trees, grass, pollution, and even temperature changes.
♦ Check your outdoor air quality If you plan to move your physical activity outside, remember to scope out the environment first and be aware of any obvious triggers. The quality of the air we breathe outdoors can be especially troublesome for people with asthma. Check daily air quality levels and air pollution forecasts in your area at AirNow.gov.
♦ Lawn and garden maintenance Before working in the yard, check your local pollen count. Consider gardening in the early morning or evening when the pollen count is at its lowest. Fertilizers and freshly cut grass can worsen asthma symptoms. When working in the yard, consider wearing a particle mask (available at hardware stores) to keep from breathing in tiny particles.
♦ It’s a bug’s life Citronella candles and bug spray may keep mosquitoes at bay, but they can also trigger an asthma episode. It may help to stay several feet away from any strong smelling candles, and when using mosquito repellent, choose lotions that are unscented instead of aerosol sprays. Other tips that may help you avoid using repellent products are to empty flower pot liners or other containers holding water, wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and socks when outside, and stay indoors at sunrise and sunset when mosquitoes are most active.
Know Your Hazards from the
Many Americans follow the long-standing tradition of spring-cleaning. Dusting, vacuuming, and cleaning indoor surfaces can help to eliminate many potential asthma and allergy triggers, but it can also introduce new ones into the home environment.
♦ Beware of cleaning products While cleaning the home is important and can eliminate triggers such as mold, ingredients in cleaning products can cause asthma and allergy symptoms. Help to reduce the impact of these chemicals by ensuring that there is good ventilation. This means that you may have to open a window or two to increase the air circulation in the home. Look for the Environmental Protection Agency Design for the Environment (DfE) logo when you shop for cleaning products. For more information on what the DfE label means or for a list of approved products, visit epa.gov/dfe.
♦ Get rid of pests (or at least decrease exposure) Pests, such as cockroaches and dust mites, can be triggers for many people with allergies and asthma. You may never have a pest-free home, but you can do your part to reduce your exposure to these tiny critters. Regular house cleaning and the use of dust-mite resistant pillow and mattress covers may eliminate the breeding grounds for these common household bugs.
Use Medications as Prescribed
While limiting exposure to triggers can be helpful, you can never eliminate contact from all potential asthma and allergy threats. Always be sure to use your controller medications as prescribed, even if you are feeling well. Remember to keep your quick-relief medicine nearby in case of a flare-up. Other tools, such as a peak flow meter and a written asthma action plan, can complement your medications.
Talk with Your Healthcare Provider
Be sure to keep your doctor informed if you begin having trouble controlling your asthma or allergy symptoms. With your doctor’s help, you can create an asthma or allergy management plan to help keep you feeling healthy, active, and symptom-free.
Allergies and asthma shouldn’t keep you from enjoying springtime weather. For more information on lung health, call the American Lung Association Help Line at (800) 586-4872, or visit lung.org.
Source: American Lung Association, lung.org.
This article was originally published in Coping® with Allergies & Asthma magazine, May/June 2013.