For those who suffer from seasonal allergies, this time of year is filled with itchy eyes, runny noses and plenty of sneezing. Unfortunately, those with asthma can have it even worse.
According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, allergic asthma is the most common type of asthma, affecting about 60 percent of the more than 26 million people in the U.S. that have asthma. Allergens, such as pollen and dust, can enter the body by being touched, inhaled or swallowed, and they can cause these individuals to have asthma attacks.
Why is that the case? Jeanna Warman, Cardiopulmonary Supervisor for Prowers Medical Center, said the reason is because the response your immune system uses to fight allergens is the same that can trigger asthma symptoms.
Since pollen counts get higher throughout the country during the spring time, many people have allergic reactions to the flowers and trees beginning to bloom. In Lamar, the current pollen counts are especially high when compared to the majority of the country.
“Most asthma symptoms come on slowly,” Warman said. “With daily monitoring, an individual can recognize any mild changes and treat them before they become a big problem.”
Some symptoms of an asthma-induced allergy attack include shortness of breath, wheezing, coughing and difficulty breathing.
If you have asthma, or if you have a child who suffers from asthma, here are some tips you should keep in mind to combat any reactions this allergy season:
- Keep a careful eye on your or your child’s asthma symptoms.
- Use antihistamines as necessary.
- Keep watch of local pollen counts and limit your time outdoors on high-count days.
- Clean your living spaces and use a HEPA filter to keep your indoor air quality clean.
- Try nasal allergy medications such as saline rinses or decongestant nasal sprays.
Warman encourages anyone with asthma to develop an action plan with their provider that gives detailed instructions of how to treat their asthma during attacks. That action plan should also explain when to seek professional treatment — for example, when home rescue inhalers and nebulizers fail to make improvements to your peak flow.
“Peak flows measure the force of air from the lungs,” Warman explained. “During asthma attacks, this flow becomes decreased, and the use of bronchodilators and other tools can help relieve this.”
At Prowers Medical Center, the respiratory team is well-trained to help patients during asthma attacks. They can also help review and educate patients and their families on how to maintain and treat their allergic asthma during peak seasons.
One of the cutting-edge tools the team uses is a new pulmonary function testing machine that tests the lungs of a patient. This machine can measure the lungs’ ability to force air in and out of the lungs, the volume of air the patient’s lungs are able to move in and out, and how well the patient’s lungs are working in regards to air exchange inside the lungs.
Warman herself suffers from asthma. She said she takes daily maintenance medications and monitors her daily peak flows during spring because she’s aware that her asthma has a greater chance of developing symptoms during this time. But she doesn’t let her asthma take control of her everyday life.
“The goal for any asthmatic should be living life to the fullest,” Warman said. “Work with your provider to build an asthma action plan that helps you keep your asthma well-controlled. Asthma requires regular treatment, but should not limit your activities.”
Prowers Medical Center offers an array of tests, treatments and procedures for infants, children and adults with asthma. For more information on these cardiopulmonary services, call Prowers Medical Center at call 719-336-6731 or go to prowersmedical.com/services/cardiopulmonary.