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April showers bring May flowers and May also brings weeds and grass which, for many, come with allergies. As spring arrives the air quality begins to change and that means those living with asthma and allergies are on high alert. According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, around 25 million Americans suffer from asthma and allergies and can feel greater effects during peak season. That factors out to be about seven percent of children and eight percent of adults.
Living with asthma or severe allergies can be tough, but understanding triggers and taking preventative measures can help keep asthma attacks at bay and let you live your best life this spring. May marks Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month so we’ve rounded up a few useful tips and preventative measures for those living with asthma and allergies.
The most common type of asthma is allergic asthma, which makes up about 90 percent of the asthmatic population. Allergic asthma flare ups have clear triggers including mold, dust mites, and most commonly, pollen. No two people’s asthma conditions are the same. For some, a flare up may result in a stuffy nose or runny eyes. For others, it can lead to a dangerous asthma attack.
So what are allergies exactly? Why do some people have them worse than others? In short, allergies are when your immune system fights too hard to attack common substances such as pollen. When the body releases histamine to fight the pollen, the result is inflammation, swelling and symptoms like tears and congestion.
One way to keep these symptoms in check is to understand your allergies. In Seattle, the peak season runs from February to September. If your allergies tend to flare up from pollen, you may want to stay inside. If your asthma is exacerbated by pollution such as exhaust and smog, you should check the air quality before you go out. This tool on the National Weather Service (and in the iPhone Weather app) will let you know if it’s safe for everyone to go outside or if the air may be tough on people with sensitivities.
According to the National Weather Service, the air quality issue is growing more serious. Keeping track of the state of the air before you leave your home could help your lungs stay safe from pollutants, especially if you have a sensitive respiratory system. It only takes a few seconds to check the air quality and it could spare you from preventable asthma attacks, eye and throat irritation and even some serious cardiovascular issues.
Asthma is common in older adults, and unfortunately, the symptoms can be more severe. AAFA.org shares that symptoms that may be severe in young people are considered mild in older adults. Some preventative tips they suggest include staying as active as possible—to limit wheezing, tightness, and shortness of breath when the adult is recreational—and to monitor and report any unusual breath patterns during daily activities like gardening and housework.
Living with asthma is manageable. Asthma symptoms can be controlled and treated through prescription medications, but peak season may still make life more challenging. During Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month, it’s important to check in with older adults in your life and see how they are breathing. Sometimes, older individuals may attribute shortness of breath with old age when there is a larger issue at hand.
Peak season for allergies can cause stress for folks of all ages, and it can be especially disheartening when you want to get outside and enjoy the weather. Understanding asthma and allergy symptoms and management can make spring and summer more enjoyable—and for older adults, working with caregivers and doctors to ensure their medication and treatment routines are on par with their symptoms will do them wonders.
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