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ARLINGTON HEIGHTS (Dec. 15, 2020) – This year has been hard and strange – no one can argue with that. There is hope on the horizon that COVID will become contained and cases will begin to be controlled. In the meantime, your allergies and asthma haven’t gone away, and you need to address them in the new year.
“In 2021, along with your allergy and asthma symptoms, you’ll still need to keep COVID prevention top of mind,” says allergist Luz Fonacier, MD, president of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI). “It’s always a challenge to implement new health routines as you begin the new year, and this year will have particular challenges. But with a few small tweaks, you may see some surprising benefits – like breathing easier and having fewer allergy symptoms. Can you think of a better way to ring in the new year?”
Following are five New Year’s resolutions from ACAAI that those who suffer from allergies or asthma may want to consider.
- Stay the course – Keep doing all the good things you’ve been doing. It’s exhausting for sure. But if you’ve been wearing a mask, using hand sanitizer, social distancing and not traveling, keep doing those things to prevent yourself and family members from getting COVID-19. Especially if you have a pre-existing condition like asthma, you want to avoid hospital visits. And if you haven’t yet gotten your flu shot, get one for every member of your family. Flu prevention is one more way of staying healthy this year.
- Up your exercise if possible – Lots of gyms are still closed, but there are plenty of Zoom classes, apps, and other ways to get your steps in. If you live in a warmer climate, it may be possible to exercise outdoors, even if it’s just a daily 20- to 30-minute walk. Exercising in cold weather can make asthma symptoms worse, so avoid exercising outside if it’s cold and windy. Actually, covering your nose and mouth with your mask can warm the air you breathe in. Use your inhaler before exercising and as needed during exercise. If asthma limits your ability to exercise, see your allergist to discuss a possible adjustment to your asthma medication routine.
- Be smoke-free – Many people swear off smoking in the new year, but it makes absolute sense for both you and your kids if any of you suffer from asthma. Secondhand smoke is particularly harmful to kids’ lungs, and studies have shown children with asthma who are exposed to secondhand smoke at home have nearly double the risk of being hospitalized than children with asthma who aren’t exposed.
- Add some healthy eats – Whether it’s deciding to make fruits and vegetables a regular part of your diet or doubling down on avoiding any food that may cause an allergic reaction, now’s the time to recommit to healthy eating. If your college age kids with food allergies are home due to COVID, talk with them about steering clear of events where foods with unidentified ingredients might be served. Teens and older kids sometimes avoid mentioning food allergies so they won’t stick out among their peers. Encourage them to continue educating their friends and enlisting their help in the battle to stay allergen-free.
- See an allergist – If you think it’s possible you’ve developed asthma, seasonal allergies or food allergies in the past year, the new year is the perfect time to see an allergist and learn more about how to feel better. Allergists’ offices are open, and an allergist can diagnose and treat your symptoms, as well as create a plan for avoiding triggers. This year, let an allergist help you lead the life you want.
For more information about treatment of allergies and asthma, and to locate an allergist in your area, visit AllergyAndAsthmaRelief.org.