5 Tips for Tackling Allergies with Asthma
Allergens are substances that trigger an allergic reaction. For about 60% of people with asthma, exposure to allergens can cause asthma symptoms to develop. When your body encounters an allergen, your immune system perceives it as dangerous and has an overly strong response. This reaction can lead to swelling in your airways and difficulty breathing. With some effort, though, you can learn to manage your allergies and asthma.
According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, common allergic asthma triggers include cockroaches, dust mites, mold, pollen, and pets. Tracking your asthma flares may help you pinpoint allergic triggers in your environment. However, your doctor can more accurately confirm your diagnosis through skin and blood tests.
Try to eliminate or avoid known allergens to keep your asthma at bay. Wash your bedding once a week and use dust-proof covers on your pillows and mattress to control dust mites. Clean mold from hard surfaces with bleach or soap and water. Run exhaust fans in your kitchen and bathroom to keep the humidity level low indoors. Remove allergens from carpets and furniture using a vacuum with a HEPA filter.
Pay attention to pollen counts in your area. Try to stay indoors with the windows closed on days when levels are high. If you need to go outside during these times, consider wearing a mask, especially if doing activities like mowing the lawn. When you return home, remove your shoes, take a shower, and put on clean clothes.
Your doctor may suggest over-the-counter (OTC) or prescription allergy medication. Antihistamines, nasal steroid sprays, or decongestants can help relieve symptoms. If possible, take allergy medications before a potential exposure for best results. It’s important to also stay on top of your regular asthma treatments. This includes your short-acting rescue inhaler to treat airway inflammation and long-term daily control medications to prevent future attacks.
Your asthma triggers or severity can change over time, so talk with your doctor if your current plan isn’t working. Together, you can review your asthma action plan and determine whether adjustments are needed. Allergy immunotherapy, usually known as allergy shots, may help desensitize you to allergens and improve your symptoms. Your doctor might add a biologic medication if you have severe asthma. For example, omalizumab (Xolair) is an injection specific for treating allergic asthma.