The 50 million Americans who suffer from seasonal allergies, a condition that leads itchy eyes, nose and throat, sneezing, stuffy or runny nose, tearing or dark circles under the eyes, is particularly dangerous for patients with asthma. With Spring allergy season just around the corner, the Montefiore Medical Center has released a series of recommendations on the management of allergies for those who have asthma.
The center advises patients at risk of suffering from seasonal allergies to limit their activities conducted outdoors during times of the day where pollen counts are high. In addition, allergy sufferers should wash the hair after outdoor activities, keep windows at home and in the car closed to avoid exposure to pollen, and avoid hanging sheets or clothes outside to dry. Installing an air conditioner can also help to filter pollen out of indoor air as well.
“Even with snow still on the ground, trees have started budding and are the first to produce pollen, creating major problems for people with allergies,” explained the chief of the Division of Allergy and Immunology at Montefiore Medical Center, David Rosenstreich, MD. “The symptoms people experience often resemble a common cold, but, if it happens every year at this time, it’s most likely to be allergies.”
Allergic manifestations occur during this time of the year as a reaction of body’s immune system to pollen, which is mistaken for foreign objects and needs to be attacked through the launch of histamines in the blood. The histamines are introduced into the bloodstream and latch onto receptors on a variety of cells, which is what causes the swelling, while the symptoms are a result of this inflammatory state.
The physicians also note that asthma patients are particularly at risk of suffering from seasonal allergies, which can trigger an asthma attack. Patients should have access to proper medication in order to prevent a crisis. “By taking medicine early, you can prevent the symptoms before they begin. If you start after the symptoms are in full swing, it’s much harder to stop the allergic reaction than to prevent it from the beginning,” added Rosenstreich.
Indoor air quality (IAQ) professionals from Puerto Rico-based Zimmetry Environmental also recently identified a series of indoor triggers of asthma, since the attacks commonly result from an allergic reaction. The United States economy spends about $56 billion health dollars on asthma and asthma-related complications each year. This chronic respiratory condition remains incurable, but is reasonably managed in many patients simply by identifying and avoiding triggers of an attack.