by Dr. Raquel Watkins
Board-certified allergist with has offices in Jacksonville and Orange Park.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 1 in 13 people have asthma so about 25 million Americans have asthma. Asthma is a chronic lung disease that causes airway congestion and tightness. Symptoms can include cough, shortness of breath or chest tightness. It is important to know when your asthma is not controlled, what your triggers are and the two basic types of medications used to treat asthma.
Do you know the “Rule of Two’s”?
Do you have asthma symptoms or use your quick relief inhaler more than two times a week?
Do you wake up at night with asthma symptoms more than two times a month?
Do you fill a canister of your quick relief medication more than two times per year?
If you are answered yes to any of these or if you are unsure, it is time to involve your doctor to discuss asthma control.
Do you know your triggers or how to manage them?
Many asthmatics can be allergic to weeds, trees, grass, mold, dust, dog or cat allergens. If you have never been tested, speak to your doctor about getting tested for allergies so that you can better understand your triggers. Allergies are typically treated with Medications, Modification of the environment and Modification of your immune system with immunotherapy or ‘allergy shots’.
Now during the peak pollen season, if you feel triggered, take the medications that your doctor has recommended. If you are allergic to pollen, wear a mask when outdoors, and shower or wash your face after coming indoors.
Indoor allergens such as dust mites can be reduced by stepping up cleaning, and by keeping humidity indoors to less 55%. You can do this with a dehumidifier.
Know the differences between
There are two basic types of medications that can be helpful for people who have asthma. The first is a rescue inhaler such as albuterol. The rescue inhaler can help to open the airways and can be used for cough, shortness of breath and wheezing. The second medication is a controller medication, and this one should be used daily even if you are feeling well.
Since the Covid-19 pandemic has coincided with the peak pollen season, it is important to control your allergy and asthma symptoms to avoid confusion over Covid-19 since some symptoms overlap. Take your medications as instructed by your doctor. Follow your Asthma Action Plan. If you do not have a plan, now is the time to speak to your doctor. Keeping your asthma under control can help you to be your best self, and lead to a healthier and more active lifestyle.
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