So many people around the world struggle with asthma and allergies that it has become common to brush it off and not seek relief. The severity and specific triggers vary by individual but it is important to take preventative measures and get over-the-counter medications if needed to help deal with asthma and allergies.
Asthma and allergies affect almost 300 million people around the world. Different people have different sensitivities to pollen, pet dander, dust and other triggers. While it might seem difficult to pinpoint your exact triggers, a healthcare provider can test for the exact type of allergies you have.
There are several prescription and over-the-counter medications that can help relieve symptoms of asthma and allergies. In addition to medications, you’ll also want to take preventive measures.
What are the types and severity levels of asthma and allergies?
According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI), there are different types of asthma. The different types of asthma include exercise-induced asthma, occupational asthma, childhood asthma, and allergic asthma. Asthma can also vary in severity.
Intermittent asthma develops with symptoms that occur less than twice a week. Nightly flares may occur less than twice a month.
Mild persistent asthma develops with symptoms that occur more than twice a week but not daily. Nightly flares may occur more than twice a month but not weekly.
Moderate persistent asthma develops with symptoms that occur every day. Nightly flares may occur more than once per week.
Severe persistent asthma develops with symptoms that occur every day. Nightly flares may occur throughout the night at least once per week.
Asthma symptoms can vary from person to person. For example, one person may experience only mild wheezing while another may experience periods of difficulty breathing along with coughing and chest tightness.
What are the ways to deal with asthma and allergies?
Medications can help reduce allergy symptoms and control asthma attacks. They generally work by opening up the airways or decreasing the body’s immune response to an allergen or trigger. Talk with your healthcare provider about the best medication for you, especially if you have severe symptoms.
Lifestyle changes may also help relieve symptoms. Your healthcare provider may recommend changing your environment or habits in addition to taking medication. Here are six tips for living with asthma and allergies:
Know your environment and triggers
You can take an active role in managing your symptoms by learning about your environment. Although you can't always control your environment, you can identify what triggers your symptoms.
Whether it's pollen, chemicals, or stress (yes, stress is a trigger!), you have to know what sets off your asthma or recognize when you're having trouble and what might be causing it.
Develop a plan of action
The key is knowing your triggers and being prepared for them. That's where an asthma action plan comes in handy.
A written plan spells out how to deal with various situations, including when and how to take medication, when to go to the doctor or emergency room and what steps to take if your symptoms get out of control.
Stay inside on dry and high pollen days
For people with allergies and asthma, pollen is one of the biggest triggers of symptoms. Pollen can cause coughing, wheezing, chest tightness and shortness of breath—all classic asthma symptoms.
When pollen counts are high, it's best to stay inside as much as possible. Keep the windows closed and use the air conditioner with a HEPA filter. Take your medications as directed, including all of your preventative medications.
Stay away from smoke and pollution
Along with the allergens in the air, toxins from industrial sites, coal-burning power plants and car exhaust can also cause severe problems for those with asthma and allergies. If you have asthma or allergies, make sure you stay up to date on the air quality index where you live by checking the daily forecast.
Where possible, stay indoors when pollution is high. Pollutants in the air outside can get into your home through open doors and windows, so keep your home as tightly sealed as possible.
Get rid of clutter that collects dust
Clutter is more than just an eyesore. It's a place where dust and allergens accumulate, and it can make the task of cleaning even more challenging.
The first step to clearing out clutter is to get rid of items you don't want or need. It might be easier said than done, especially if you're a hoarder by nature. But try to remember that the less clutter in your home, the easier it'll be to manage dust and dirt.
Know the warning signs of an asthma attack
If you have asthma, you know the importance of recognizing asthma attack warning signs and learning how to prevent an asthma attack. An asthma attack can be mild or severe, lasting a few minutes or several days. The best way to avoid an asthma attack is to follow your written asthma action plan according to your doctor’s instructions.
The following are warning signs that you may be having an asthma attack:
- Decreased peak flow readings when using a peak-flow meter
- Coughing, especially at night
- Feeling tired, weak or out of breath
- Severe tiredness or fatigue
- Wheezing (a whistling sound when you breathe)
Take Control of Asthma and Allergies
Asthma affects millions of people and their families. Knowing the steps, you can take to control your asthma and allergies can help you or your loved ones prevent complications.
It's essential to educate yourself on the signs and symptoms of asthma and allergies so that you can recognize issues and treat them right when they occur. Take charge of your health—you don't want to find yourself worried just because your throat feels scratchy or you've developed a cough. By staying aware of the situation, knowledgeable, and prepared, you'll be in a better position to handle any issues that arise.
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