May is Asthma and Allergy awareness month, since this is the month of the year in much of the United States when the trees and flowers are blooming and pollen counts are high. Asthma symptoms are often triggered by allergies, and if you have asthma, you are already well aware of this. The spring time and May in particular, are rough months with many people who have sensitive respiratory systems. Many people who only have allergies and no history of asthma may also have a hard time breathing during this time.
If you suffer allergies and you've been diagnosed with COPD, you will need to protect yourself even more during the peak of the allergy season. People with chronic lung diseases under the umbrella term of COPD, which are emphysema and chronic bronchitis, now have sensitive lungs that need to be protected from any extra inflammation and irritation.
Sicknesses that cause an increased production in mucous and irritation in general can cause a dangerous flare up, called an exacerbation. Allergies function much the same way as a cold or other illness, it's just the causes that are different. Allergies that are left untreated in people with any sort of chronic lung disease can lead to other problems that will be harder to treat than just regular allergies.
The best thing to do for people with a chronic lung disease who suffer from allergies, is to prevent the allergy symptoms from occurring in the first place. There are several ways you can do this:
- Get a non-drowsy, 24-hour allergy medication, which you can get over the counter, behind the counter, or by prescription from your doctor. If you have severe allergies that aren't helped by over the counter or behind the counter allergy medications, your doctor will most likely prescribe one that is known to work for severe cases.
- Use a saline nose spray to clean out your nostrils in the morning and at night to clear out any allergens that might be in your nostrils. You may have taken your allergy medicine, but if it wears off over night and you have pollen spores in your nose from when you were out and about during the day, you will start to experience allergy symptoms over night.
- The pollen count is highest between the hours of 5 am and 10 am. If you can help it, try to stay indoors until the mid to late afternoon to avoid bringing the pollen spores inside with you. Everything that goes outside must be rinsed, washed off, or left outside if possible.
- If it's warm outside, resist the urge to open the windows and turn on a fan or an air conditioner instead.
- If your home is carpeted, anyone who goes outside and comes back in will track in pollen spores, which will sit in the carpet. When the spores are disturbed, they can fly up into the air for you to breathe in. Consider replacing the carpets in your home with hard floors, or use a vacuum with a HEPA filter to clean.