With the arrival of winter, seasonal allergic rhinitis (hay fever) and asthma sufferers can breathe relief as most outdoor allergens disappear until spring. But holiday gatherings and spending more time indoors exposes many people to different allergen triggers. Food Allergies During the Holidays
Food plays a central role in many events. If you have a food allergy, these functions can be difficult to navigate. Be sure to ask about the ingredients used to make each dish. Be aware that cross-contamination can occur during preparation. If you think the foods served pose too much risk, or if you just don’t feel comfortable eating foods provided by others, you don’t have to. Other Holiday Triggers Holiday decorations, travel and stress can all present challenges for people with allergies and asthma. Here are some of the most common triggers to be on the lookout for: -Does your Christmas tree make you sneeze or cause shortness of breath? It’s unlikely that you are allergic to the tree itself, but the fragrance may be irritating. Some trees may also be home to microscopic mold spores that trigger asthma or allergies, causing symptoms like sneezing or an itchy nose. . -Follow directions carefully when spraying artificial snow or flocking. Inhaling these sprays can irritate your lungs and trigger asthma symptoms. -If you leave your pet behind when traveling for the holidays, you may experience allergy or asthma symptoms on your return home.
Exercise is a common trigger for asthma and may cause symptoms in 80-90% of asthmatics. Cold dry winter air can also make breathing difficult for asthmatics. Shortness of breath, wheezing, cough or chest tightness may result. The symptoms can occur during, just after or several hours after exercise. Here are a few exercise tips for asthmatics during the winter season. Avoid strenuous exercise in cold dry air, as cooling and drying of the bronchial airways can trigger an asthma attack. Avoid winter sports, such as skiing, snowboarding, or ice skating, especially if your asthma is not properly controlled. Use your bronchodilator inhalers, such as albuterol, 20 minutes prior to exercise. Keep your inhalers warm in order to avoid a cold aerosol spray. Be sure to “warm-up” and “cool-down” after strenuous exercise. When exercising in cold air, wear a scarf or facemask over the nose and mouth to warm the air you are breathing. Be sure to drink plenty of liquids before and after exercise to prevent drying of the airways. Exercise indoors when outdoor temperatures drop. The best year-round exercise for asthmatics is swimming in an indoor heated pool.
An extraordinary percentage of asthma sufferers do not seem to know how to breathe well. They have a tendency of breathing through their mouths, instead of their noses. Breathing through the mouth actually causes the constriction of blood vessels, and increases the chances of lung infections, due to the lack of nasal filtering. This constriction can cause the sufferer to require even more oxygen, in a snowballing reaction. The type of breathing exercises which are practiced in Karate are ideal for asthma sufferers to gradually increase their lung capacity. To do this, one must focus on breathing slowly but deeply through the nose only, and out through the mouth slowly. A maximum breath should be taken in during inhalation, and then after a brief pause, some effort should be made to force slightly more air in. This air should be held for about 2 seconds before slowly exhaling as much as possible, and then the process is repeated. This technique of breathing deeper (yet more slowly) should be employed whenever there is physical exertion. Through practice, a person will become trained to breathe more slowly and deeply, and this exercise will actually increase the air capacity of the lungs.
There are certain weather patterns that are known to cause problems for people with asthma. Winter is one of them. Cold air is a major trigger of asthma. Scientists have studied the effects of breathing cold air. People with asthma were made to inhale cold, dry air in a hospital experiment. They developed wheezing and became short of breath. When you inhale a blast of cold air, your airways respond by going into bronchospasm. (Bronchospasm is contraction of the airways, which causes them to get narrow.) This is because of the severe temperature difference between the outside air and your airways. Think of what you might feel if you suddenly place your hand into a bucket of freezing cold ice water! People who have exercise-induced asthma should be especially careful about exposure to cold, dry air. Popular outdoor winter sports like hockey, figure skating and skiing require spending a lot of time outdoors. And many runners continue to jog throughout the winter months. Pre-medicate yourself before beginning activities that cause asthma symptoms to worsen. Talk to your doctor about what medication is right for your particular need. Obviously, you can’t change the weather, but you can take steps to avoid exposure to it.
Write down your symptoms in an asthma diary each day. Recording symptoms can help you recognize when you need to make treatment adjustments according to your asthma action plan. Use your asthma diary to record:
-Shortness of breath or whistling sounds when you exhale (wheezing) -Disturbed sleep caused by shortness of breath, coughing or wheezing -Chest tightness or pain -Quick-relief (rescue) inhaler use — record when you need to use your quick-relief inhaler (such as albuterol) and write down how many puffs you take -Disruptions to work, school, exercise or other day-to-day activities caused by asthma symptoms -Asthma symptoms during exercise -Changes in color of phlegm you cough up -Hay fever symptoms such as sneezing and runny nose -Anything that seems to trigger asthma flare-ups
It has long been said that swimming is the best exercise for persons with asthma, and with good reason. The air that you breathe while swimming is usually warm and moist and so the effect of exercise on the breathing tubes is less. In asthma, loss of heat and moisture from the walls of the bronchial tubes makes them contract.
Wheezing, chest tightness, and cough often come on just after you stop exercising. If you simply rest, the symptoms usually go on their own after about 30-60 minutes. If you use your inhaled broncho-dilator, the asthmatic symptoms go away immediately. Unlike other triggers that set off asthma, especially allergic triggers like dust and cat dander, exercise -like swimming- has no lingering effect on the bronchial tubes. After you have recovered back to normal, there are no late effects that night or the next day. Generally, the more active your asthma, the more susceptible you are to developing symptoms after exercise. The goal of good asthma care is to keep your asthma quiet and to allow you to exercise as fully as you wish. As you know, many Olympic athletes have asthma. Their asthma has not inhibited their exercise performance, and your asthma need not limit yours.
Asthma is a long-term disease that has no cure. The goal of asthma treatment is to control the disease. Good asthma control will:
–Prevent chronic and troublesome symptoms, such as coughing and shortness of breath
–Reduce your need for quick-relief medicines
-Help you maintain good lung function
–Maintain your normal activity level and sleep through the night
–Prevent asthma attacks that could result in an emergency room visit or hospital stay
To control asthma, partner with your doctor to manage your asthma or your child’s asthma.
Determine if the asthma attack is severe. Severe asthma attacks happen less frequently, but are characterized by: -Wheezing or whistling produced by breathing in and out -Rapid breathing -Uncontrollable coughing -Chest pain or chest tightening -Difficulty talking -Anxiety or panic -Pale face and blue lips or fingers -Persistence of symptoms despite use of asthma medications
In the case of a severe asthma attack, call emergency medical services. Most of the time, severe attacks will progress with few warnings. If signs do occur, it is important to treat them immediately, so that they do not lead to severe attacks.
Don’t let seasonal asthma ruin the wonderful burst of life that happens with the change of seasons. When spring and fall arrives, flowers and leaves change colors, the cycle of life continues. For those who suffer with asthma, this chronic condition can be painful. The fall and winter months bring both cold weather and respiratory infections like colds and the flu. These infections are an important asthma trigger. Asthma symptoms are often more severe with a respiratory infection than at other times. The following steps may help reduce the chances of triggering an asthma attack:
–Covering your nose and mouth during cold weather
–Exercising indoors on cold days
-Getting a flu shot
-Practicing good hygiene and avoiding close contact with sick people
Some people with asthma may not realize they have a chronic condition, or they may be diagnosed with another condition such as bronchitis. Bronchitis and asthma often have similar symptoms. Between a third and two thirds of people who have been diagnosed with bronchitis may actually have asthma.
Seasonal allergies can also make your asthma worse and trigger asthma attacks. If you think seasonal or other allergies may be affecting your seasonal or other type of asthma, talk to your physician.
Asthma is the common chronic inflammatory disease of the airways characterized by variable and recurring symptoms, reversible airflow obstruction, and bronchospasm. Symptoms include wheezing, coughing, chest tightness, and shortness of breath. Asthma is clinically classified according to the frequency of symptoms, forced expiratory volume in 1 second (FEV1), and peak expiratory flow rate. Asthma may also be classified as atopic (extrinsic) or non-atopic (intrinsic).
It is thought to be caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Treatment of acute symptoms is usually with an inhaled short-acting beta-2 agonist (such as salbutamol). Symptoms can be prevented by avoiding triggers, such as allergens and irritants, and by inhaling corticosteroids. Leukotriene antagonists are less effective than corticosteroids and thus less preferred.