Controlling Triggers, Symptoms Of Asthma

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Allergy and asthma are among the most common health problems, with more than 50 million Americans afflicted with asthma, seasonal hay fever, or other allergy-related conditions each year. The warm summer months present many allergic triggers – weather changes, ozone-alert days, pollen from flowers, weeds and grasses, and exercise.

The pulmonary department at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital offers the following top 10 tips on how you can control asthma triggers and symptoms this summer:

1. Dust: Control dust with frequent cleaning using a damp mop, rather than a broom, and replace furnace filters regularly with the change of season. Clean bedding in hot water and place pillows, box springs and mattresses in dust proof cases.

2. Animals: Keep pets out of your bedroom and bathe them on a weekly basis.

3. Pollen/Grass: Try avoiding allergens by remaining indoors on windy days or when the pollen count is high. Use air conditioning instead of opening the windows.

4. Fumes/Paint: Keep clear of strong odors, perfumes, colognes and scented products. Fine sprays, hair sprays and spray paint can cause your lungs to be irritated from all the different chemicals they contain.

5. Smoke: Do not smoke and do not allow others to smoke in your house, car or garage.

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6. Exercise: Take prescribed medications before exercising. Warm up slowly and limit exercise in inclement weather or if you are ill.

7. Weather/Air Temperature: Use a scarf or mask to cover your face in severe weather and limit outdoor activities when the weather is very cold and dry or the humidity levels and temperature are high.

8. Air Pollution: Stay inside on high pollution, high ozone alert days.

9. Emotions: Laughing, crying, anger or excitement changes the way you breathe. Stay calm and practice deep breathing methods to control emotional flare-ups.

10. Check the pollen count and consider going on vacation to the seashore during the heaviest part of the pollen season.

“The best time to plan for an asthma episode is before it happens,” said Stephanie Dorfman, RRT, clinical specialist and asthma educator at Lutheran General.

When an episode occurs, Dorfman advises patients to get away from the trigger, follow their home treatment plan, remain calm and call their doctor or 9-1-1 if quick relief medications are not alleviating symptoms.

“Asthma is a life-long breathing problem that cannot be cured, but it can be treated and controlled,” Dorfman added.

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