For some, May in Cincinnati signals a return to sunshine, glorious spring flowers and a bright forecast divinely sent for the eradication of winter doldrums. But if you’re an asthma or allergy sufferer, May might feel like a time of constant suffering. May is also the month designated to create more awareness about how allergies and asthma affect millions in this country alone — and what that means to all of us.
What Is Asthma?
More than 26 million Americans suffer from asthma every year. But understanding the disease and your triggers can mean the difference between life and death.
Knowledge is power
Asthma is a lung disease that when met with irritants, causes swelling and constriction in the airways. Symptoms include shortness of breath, wheezing, coughing, and tightness of the chest. Common irritants can include pollen, chemicals, significant changes in weather, dust mites, stress and even exercise. But don’t take this as your get-out-of-spin-class-free card. The best way to avoid an asthma attack is to know your triggers and to work with your doctor at Allergy and Asthma Care, Inc. to develop a plan that’s right for you, while still enjoying the things you love.
How Do I Know If I Have Allergies?
Asthma isn’t the only cause of suffering. In fact, nearly one in three adults and one in four children suffer from allergies. Allergies occur when the immune system reacts to a foreign substance. And just like with asthma, knowing your triggers is key. Common allergens can include pets, pollen and insects. Symptoms may be itchy or watery eyes, sneezing, runny nose or rash. To help with allergies, it’s better to avoid allergy triggers altogether. Or, you can improve your immune system through immunotherapy, rather than just take medicine to manage the symptoms.
How to help
Allergy or asthma attacks can be scary for the victim and the observer. Following a few key steps can make all the difference in the outcome.
- Find and assist in using a rescue inhaler.
- Loosen any restrictive clothing that might inhibit breathing.
- Be soothing. Offer words of encouragement in a neutral tone.
- Help to practice slow, deep breathing techniques
- Drive to the doctor or ER. Severe asthma attacks need to be treated.
- If the attack is severe, call 911.
How to Raise Awareness About Allergies & Asthma
Together, we can help people better understand asthma and allergies. Here are ways you can participate in Allergy & Asthma Awareness Month:
Enter the #MoreThanAsthma photo contest, sponsored by the Allergy & Asthma Foundation of America (AAFA). Take a picture showing how you overcome asthma barriers and live life fully, and upload it to the AAFA online community. They’ll choose three winners who will receive a “healthier home” prize package worth more than $250. Go here for more contest details and how to enter: http://bit.ly/2YlKktz
- Fundraise for AAFA. Raise funds online, ask your friends to donate via Facebook as your birthday wish, host an event (lemonade stand, anyone?), or participate in a local race or sporting event to raise money for the cause.
- Organize a “dress down” day or “wear teal” day. If your child attends a private school, ask your child’s school principal if students can pay $1 during May 12-18 (Food Allergy Awareness Week) to “dress down” for a day. Or, students at public schools can pay $1 to dress in teal, the color used for food allergy awareness. All proceeds go to FAACT, Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Team. Get more details about “dress down day” and other ideas here: http://bit.ly/2DXyTk0
If you think you or your loved one might have untreated allergies or asthma, we’re here to help. This is the perfect time to make an appointment with one of our board certified allergists at one of our five locations.