Dealing with asthma during the springtime can be a challenge. Allergies can make the symptoms that come with asthma that much more difficult to handle.
Mohamad Abul-Khoudoud, MD, who practices at Mercy Health — Paducah Pulmonology and also sees patients from Irvine, KY and surrounding communities virtually, shares his firsthand thoughts on the best ways asthma sufferers can cope with their seasonal allergies.
Asthmatics can have a rough time with the change of seasons. The same culprit that triggers classic hay fever symptoms like sneezing, an itchy, runny nose, watery eyes, a cough and congestion can also put you at increased risk for an asthma attack.
If you have hay fever, your immune system releases histamine in response to allergens like pollen, dust mites and pet dander. It’s the histamine that causes hay fever symptoms. If you have asthma and hay fever, histamine can worsen your asthma symptoms or lead to an asthma attack since it tightens the muscles around your airways and leads to increased mucus production.
When it comes to seasonal allergies, I tell my patients with asthma that prevention is better than cure. We want to prevent you from having an asthma attack and the way to do that is to stay ahead of it.
The first line of defense is medication.
You should carry your asthma medication, including your inhaler, with you always. If you feel symptoms coming on, don’t hesitate. Take your medication.
If you have hay fever in addition to asthma, you should also take allergy medication. Allergy medications are also known as antihistamines, and as you might guess from that name, they act against the histamine your body produces.
Timely use of allergy medicine reduces your body’s response to histamine and thus your risk of an asthma attack.
Next, know your triggers.
To determine which type of pollen trigger your hay fever and asthma symptoms, keep a journal that tracks your symptoms as well as which pollens were high that day. Pollen information is available online and covered on many weather reports.
While it’s nearly impossible to avoid pollen, if the weather report indicates that the pollen count for your trigger pollen is high that day, try to stay inside with the doors and windows shut. This is especially important if it’s dry and windy. If you can’t stay inside, consider wearing a mask when the pollen count is heavy.
Knowing your triggers and taking steps to avoid them as well as keeping on top of your medication can help you reduce your risk of an asthma attack.
Learn more about the pulmonology and respiratory care services we offer at Mercy Health.