Tips for Keeping Your Asthma and Allergies in Check

Asthma is controllable, but it can be scary and even dangerous if it’s not kept in check—and having allergies can be downright annoying. Having both asthma and allergies, though, can be the source of some major problems, and the two often coexist. Often, asthma worsens when allergies do—during the spring and late summer.

Pollen can be monitored by checking the weather forecast; apps like The Weather Network and others will show both pollen counts and air quality alerts which can help people with asthma and allergies; these counts may be available from your local TV and radio stations as well. Pollen, like other environmental allergens, can be difficult to avoid—it arises from trees outdoors, is in the grass, and tiny spores can travel through the air in the wind. Simply going outside can leave you and your pets covered in pollen as “dusty” seeming spores can attach to clothes, hair, and your pet’s fur. Pollen is inescapable (short of living inside a bubble or never leaving your house or letting fresh air in!). However, there are plenty of strategies to avoid asthma flare-ups and allergy symptoms associated with outdoor allergens.

Tips for Preventing Allergic Reactions

In this article, we’re focusing on avoiding a specific allergen in question: pollen. If you are allergic to pollen, your doctor may prescribe an allergy medicine to take care of most of the symptoms. They also may recommend that you instead take an over-the-counter allergy medicine rather than a prescription.

Allergy medicines can cause a variety of side effects including drowsiness (even in some cases from “non-drowsy” formulations), dizziness, sleeplessness in some cases, and dry mouth or thirstiness. Ask your doctor the best time of day to take your allergy meds—taking them later at night can help solve the problem of drowsiness, and cover your symptoms when the pollen counts are highest early in the morning.

When you’ve come back home for the day, take a shower and change your clothes as soon as possible—throw your clothes into the laundry, so you don’t wear them again by mistake! Pollen spores will attach to your clothes, hair, jacket, and shoes. If you can’t throw items like shoes in the wash, wipe them down with a damp cloth to pick up the pollen spores.

Tips for Controlling Your Asthma During Pollen Season

It is essential to take your controller medication as prescribed. Most often, this medication should be taken every day—whether it is an inhaler, more commonly, or a pill like Singulair—sometimes, though, your doctor may instruct you to start taking it a few weeks before allergy season starts and use it only during allergy season. It is essential to take it regularly as most asthma medications require time to build up to begin benefitting you.

If you have asthma, you should have a rescue inhaler prescribed to you—it is important to keep it with you at all times. As many inhalers do not have dose counters, try to keep track of how many doses you have left, or check the counter regularly if it does have one. Keep tabs on the number of refills you have available at the pharmacy, and if possible, have more than one rescue inhaler on hand, so you have a back-up if you run out, or if one gets lost. Storing inhalers in a variety of places can be helpful, such as one in your bag and one by your bed. Inhalers should not be stored in your car due to the extreme temperature changes they may be subject to—extreme heat can lead to inhalers exploding, and medications may freeze if it is very cold out.

Taking Care of Your Indoor Environment

It is important also to take care of your indoor environment if you have asthma, allergies, or both. Pillow and mattress covers can help keep your bed free of dust mites and prevent symptoms. Washing your bedding regularly is also important. Vacuuming carpeting in your house, as well as vacuuming furniture upholstery weekly can decrease dust mites and other allergens in your house—a vacuum with a HEPA filter can be a good investment. If it is not possible to have someone else dust for you, use a damp rag to dust hard surfaces to trap dust rather than stirring it up.
Dust mite allergies can be a problem year round and can make pollen season doubly miserable, so it’s important to adopt a cleaning routine that keeps dust mite eradication in mind!

Page last updated: November 27, 2018

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About Kerri M: Kerri is a blogger, coach, quantified self-er, and ePatient. A former gym class hater, she now holds a Bachelor of Physical and Health Education. Diagnosed with asthma in 2008 when she was 16, Kerri believes she is not defined by her diagnoses, but rather that they help explain her. Kerri writes for work and fun (often simultaneously!) on topics including asthma, ADHD, learning issues, patient engagement, and technology. Airplanes, t-shirts and cupcakes are among her favorite things.

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