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ARLINGTON HEIGHTS (December 1, 2015) – If you suffer from allergies or asthma, a few tweaks to your routine – some big, some small – could make a difference in dialing down the wheezing, sneezing and allergic reactions in the New Year.
“People convince themselves that changes for better health are either too time-consuming, too expensive or too difficult,” says allergist Bryan Martin, DO, president of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI). “But there’s no reason you can’t start by making small changes and then move on to bigger or more difficult changes as you see improvements. People with asthma and allergies have different health challenges than others, but by paying attention to small changes, they’ll begin to see improvements fairly rapidly.”
Following are five New Year’s resolutions from ACAAI that those who suffer from allergies or asthma should consider.
Exercise Smarter – Anyone with allergies and asthma should be able to feel good, be active all day and sleep well at night. That includes exercise. If you have asthma, avoid exercising in a cold room or in cold weather. Indoor and outdoor air pollution, high pollen counts and colds can also cause symptoms during exercise. Sports that require only short bursts of activity are best – think volleyball, gymnastics, baseball, wrestling, golf and swimming. Use your inhaler before exercising and as needed during exercise.
Pack your bags wisely – It’s fun to explore new places, but travel can be daunting for those with allergies, asthma or food allergies. Advance preparation can make travel easier. Be sure you take along allergy medications, an inhaler and allergist-prescribed epinephrine if you are at risk for a severe allergic reaction known as anaphylaxis. If you rely on immunotherapy (allergy shots) for relief, schedule an appointment before you leave. There are web sites that offer allergy-free rooms, but make sure your definition of allergy-free lines up with theirs in order to avoid triggers. If you’re allergic to dust mites, bring your allergy-blocking bedding.
Make your lungs happy – Giving up the smokes tops a lot of lists, and it’s a big one. But for those who suffer from asthma – and particularly for children with asthma who inhale secondhand smoke – smoking is an added hazard. A recent study published in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology showed 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.
See an Allergist – Sometimes people avoid going to an allergist even though symptoms are making their daily routine difficult. Every year, more people are diagnosed with seasonal allergies, and the pollen season gets worse. Some allergy medications require you to start taking them 12 weeks before symptoms start, so the beginning of the year is a perfect time to see an allergist and learn about your options. An allergist can determine what is causing symptoms, and show you how to avoid triggers.
Load up on Info – The New Year is the time to get your allergies and asthma in order. Consider tracking your symptoms with the ACAAI Allergy Tracker. The tracker can help you identify your triggers, track your symptoms and pinpoint effective medications.
For those with particularly bothersome allergies, an allergist may prescribe immunotherapy which can modify and prevent allergy development. And many people with asthma don’t know that allergists are specially trained to treat asthma symptoms. Compared to care provided by generalists, asthma sufferers getting care from an allergist have fewer hospitalizations and emergency room visits, higher ratings for the quality of care, fewer restrictions in activities, and improved physical functioning.
For more information about treatment of allergies and asthma, and to locate an allergist in your area, visit AllergyAndAsthmaRelief.org.