Can The Changing of Seasons Trigger An Asthma Attack or Aggravate Allergy Symptoms?
Asthma affects up to 20 million Americans, and sufferers are sensitive to environmental triggers. Some triggers are obvious such as allergens (pollens, pet dander, etc.), irritants (strong perfume, pollutants, or chemicals), tobacco smoke, and infectious agents (viruses that cause colds). However, some triggers aren't obvious. Changes in atmosphere (colder temperatures, changes in humidity), physical exertion, and even emotionally charged situations that precipitate anxiety, crying, and laughter can cause an asthma attack.
When most of us think of asthma, we imagine a person who is fine one minute, then short of breath and wheezing the next. In fact, many people with asthma feel pretty good until certain elements exacerbate their condition. Also, because the illness is chronic, their condition must be monitored regularly, preferably by an asthma specialist, even when they feel well.
If you suspect that you have asthma, the first step is to have your doctor run a few tests to see how well you can move air in and out of your lungs. Once your doctor confirms a diagnosis, he may suggest that you seek out an asthma specialist. The treatments for asthma vary widely depending on the severity of your symptoms; having said that, treatments for asthma also needs to be individualized, something that an asthma specialist can help you with. Not everyone responds the same way, therefore various medications are available to treat the disease. An asthma specialist can help determine exactly which medications and treatments are the best for your particular situation.
Asthma medications fall into two broad categories: those used for long term control and those used to treat acute symptoms. Short-term bronchodilators, used to treat an acute asthma attack, open the airways by relaxing the muscles that have constricted around them. There are some long-acting bronchodilators, but the most effective asthma treatment programs should incorporate anti-inflammatory medicines.
Regularly using anti-inflammatory medications (the second broad category of drugs to treat asthma) decreases the frequency and severity of the asthma attacks. Examples of anti-inflammatory medicines include corticosteroids, leukotriene modifiers, and mast cell stabilizers, which can be used to more effectively control underlying inflammatory problems.
Of course not all asthma medications are alike, nor are they meant to be. By working with your asthma specialist, you can customize a treatment plan that will be the most effective for you, which in turn will help you breathe more easily.
Cool air and windy, rainy days can be less delightful for people with asthma and other breathing difficulties. Please wear your hats and scarves over your face or consider buying a warming mask. Also, you are under the usual stresses and emotions are running high. If you work or have outdoor activities that keep you outside for long periods of time, consult your asthma specialist for the best preventive treatments for asthma. Taking the first steps to controlling you asthma will help prevent an unpleasant asthma attack, and lower the risk of repeat incidents in the future.
Symptoms of asthma or an asthma attack are:
- Chest tightness
- Shortness of breath
Another thought: many people who suffer from asthma also have allergies. Effectively treating the allergies (even with allergy shots) improves the asthma. Vitamin D has been clinically proven to improve the management of asthma patients.
Revulotionary New Treatments for Asthma
The US Food and Drug Administration has approved a new anti-IgE drug called XOLAIR. This is a GREAT NEWS for people with a serious form of allergic asthma and could revolutionize how all allergic diseases are treated! Another new drug on the market is ASMANEX. Consult Dr. Tolston now!
Tips from an Asthma Specialist
- Snack on almonds (if allowed in your diet), which are rich in magnesium and help the lung function better, as well as reduce the discomforts of asthma/allergies. It's known that low levels of magnesium raise your levels of histamine, which is the chemical your body produces when having an allergic reaction.
- According to recent studies, exposure to antibiotics in the first year of a child's life may double the risk of developing asthma later in childhood.
- According to a group of Harvard researchers focused on nearly 1200 women and their babies during and after pregnancy - "what they found?" - for every 100 units of vitamin D consumed during pregnancy, there was a dramatic decrease in the risk of wheezing incidents and the high risk of asthma in babies up to age 3 (fortified dairy products like skim milk, low-fat yogurt, low-fat ice cream, or from a supplement).
- Vitamin D has also been shown to have immunologic effects.