If you have both asthma and seasonal allergies, there are ways to reduce the impacts of that double whammy, an expert says.
People with asthma, a chronic lung condition, should try to control or prevent allergic outbreaks, said Dr. Miranda Curtiss, an assistant professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Medicine.
Nasal steroids and nasal antihistamines are among the easiest and most effective way to defend against seasonal allergies, she said. Moreover, they're inexpensive and available over-the-counter or by prescription, Curtiss added.
Allergy shots are another option.
"Allergy shots can be helpful for patients with seasonal and year-round allergies," Curtiss said in a university news release. "However, these are a long-term investment that require planning to continue therapy for three to five years for maximal benefit. Asthmatics who want to start allergy shots need to have their asthma under good control first before starting shots."
During peak pollen conditions, it's also important to keep your house or car windows closed and use central air conditioning, she advised.
"Changing your clothes when possible and showering after entering the house can be helpful as well," Curtiss said.
Indoor allergens - such as dust mites, molds, cockroaches and pets - tend to be present year-round, but can fluctuate with factors that affect outdoor allergens.
"Because these are perennial, it's more difficult to notice how much they affect asthma and allergy symptoms, as compared to seasonal allergens, but they can have profound effects on asthma symptoms," Curtiss said. "Overall, exposure to allergens seems to make allergic asthmatics more prone to have an exacerbation when they are sick with a viral infection."
Regular use of asthma inhalers can help asthma patients control their symptoms. "This is the absolute most important way for patients to protect themselves," Curtiss stressed.
Pay attention to how often you reach for your inhaler, she said.
If you need to use your rescue inhaler more than two times during the day per week or more than two times at night a month, your asthma is not controlled and you should talk to your doctor about boosting your treatment, she added.
"All asthma patients can protect themselves from severe exacerbations by paying attention to their symptoms each day and seeking help early at the start of a flare, when it's more likely to respond to treatment," Curtiss said. "If an asthma patient is using more than one rescue inhaler per month, this is a major red flag and needs an urgent evaluation by a specialist."
For more on spring allergies and asthma, go to the American Lung Association.
SOURCE: University of Alabama at Birmingham, news release, May 10, 2022