With springtime upon us, many look ahead with excitement to warmer weather, flowers in bloom, and more hours of daylight. Although for some, these signs of spring also bring the common frustrations associated with asthma and allergies. Don’t let asthma and allergy symptoms control your life! Keep these helpful hints from the American Lung Association in mind as you enjoy the budding new season.
Identify those 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 asthma, it is important to know what may trigger your asthma 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. Check here for a more detailed list of asthma triggers and work with your healthcare provider to identify what may be causing your asthma symptoms!
Get ready, get set, get outside! With the warmer weather, come increased outdoor activity and the threat of new 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 affects each of us and can be especially troublesome for people with allergies and asthma. Check daily air quality levels and air pollution forecasts in your area. Click here to check now. Review the American Lung Association website for more tips on how to protect yourself from unhealthy air.
• Lawn & garden maintenance. Before working in the yard, check your local pollen count and 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 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 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 repellant 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 inside. 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 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 (EPA) Design for the Environment (DfE) logo when you shop for products. EPA allows safer products to carry the DfE label. This mark enables consumers to quickly identify and choose products that can help protect the environment and are safer for families. For more information on what the DfE label means or for a list of approved products, visit the EPA website.
• Get rid of pests (or at least decrease exposure). Pests, such a cockroaches and dust mites, can be triggers for many asthma and allergy sufferers. 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 items that cause asthma and allergy symptoms. Always be sure to use your controller medications as prescribed, even if you are feeling well. Remember to keep your quick-relief medicine (i.e. Albuterol) close at hand in case of a flare-up. Other tools, such as a Peak Flow Meter and a written Asthma Action Plan, can compliment your medications and help to guide your outdoor plans. Check out additional information on asthma medicines.
Talk with your healthcare provider. Be sure to keep him or her informed if you begin having trouble controlling your asthma or allergy symptoms during the spring months. With your provider’s help, you can create an asthma or allergy management plan to help keep you feeling healthy, active and well controlled.
Children are especially susceptible to pesticides and cleaning products. Find answers to the Top 10+ questions about household chemicals provided by the Environmental Protection Agency.
Asthma and allergies shouldn’t keep you from enjoying springtime weather. For more information on lung health, contact the American Lung Association Help Line at 1-800-LUNGUSA (1-800-586-4872).