Why Are More People Getting Asthma And Allergies
Some researchers put the increase in asthma and other allergic conditions over the last few decades down to the fact that we live in much cleaner, more urban conditions. This means we have less contact with the friendly bacteria that thrive in more rural, natural environments.
Along with fewer childhood infections, this has resulted in lowered immunity, and more chance of allergies, including asthma.
The hygiene hypothesis
The idea that were missing out on exposure to useful microbes early in life began to be considered a while back with a theory known as the hygiene hypothesis. This was based on evidence that children growing up in large families, in unhygienic homes, had fewer allergies, including asthma.
More recent research suggests babies exposed to friendly bacteria in the first few months of their lives are thought to have less risk of developing asthma and allergies.
This is why some studies show that children growing up on farms have fewer allergies, and other studies show that having a dog in the house when your baby is very small can protect them from allergies and asthma. The studies are based on exposure to friendly microbes in babies less than two or three months old.
But being around animals, or being in a natural environment, may not necessarily protect your child against asthma other factors need to be taken into account, such as if theres a family history of allergy and asthma.
How Can You Prevent Asthma Attacks
You can prevent some asthma attacks by avoiding those things that cause them. These are called triggers. A trigger can be:
- Irritants in the air, such as cigarette smoke or other kinds of air pollution. Dont smoke, and try to avoid being around others when they smoke.
- Things you are allergic to, such as pet dander, dust mites, cockroaches, or pollen. When you can, avoid those things you are allergic to. It may also help to take certain kinds of allergy medicine.
- Exercise. Ask your doctor about using a quick-relief inhaler before you exercise if this is a trigger for you.
- Other things like dry, cold air an infection or some medicines, such as aspirin and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs . Try not to exercise outside when it is cold and dry. Talk to your doctor about vaccines to prevent some infections. And ask about what medicines you should avoid.
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Learn To Recognize Symptoms
It is important to recognize the early warning signs of an asthma attack and treat them right away. Appropriate management early on may prevent a trip to the emergency room or keep you out of the hospital.
Early warning signs of worsening asthma and an impending asthma attack include:
- A drop in peak expiratory flow rate
- Increased cough/chronic cough
- Some difficulty performing normal daily activities
- Individual factors noticed over time that indicate worsening asthma or an asthma attack
These symptoms are likely to be listed in the yellow zone of your asthma action plan, so you should deal with them accordingly. This may mean taking extra doses of rescue medication and starting a course of oral corticosteroids.
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Ways To Prevent Asthma Attacks At Home
What causes his asthma attacks and how you can stop them.
Since most asthma attacks in children are caused by an allergic reaction, theres a lot that parents can do to prevent or reduce asthma symptoms by limiting their childs exposure to allergens. Here are four major steps:
1. Limit dust exposure. Babies and toddlers spend eight to ten hours a day in their rooms, so removing dust from their immediate area is a great place to start. Heres how to cut down on the dust in your childs room.
- Remove carpets and heavy drapes
- Wash all bedding and stuffed animals frequently in hot water
- Purchase allergen-barrier coverings for the pillows and mattresses
2. Protect your child from tobacco smoke. This is a significant asthma trigger. Some people think that smoking in a different room or outside is safe enough, but tobacco smoke gets into your hair and clothes, and your child then inhales it when you pick him up and snuggle with him. Having everyone in your household quit is the best option. If thats not possible, have smokers wear different shirts and cover their hair when they smoke.
3. Reduce or eliminate the pet factor. Many kids are allergic to pet dander. Its best not to keep a pet at home if it triggers your childs reactions. If thats not possible, at least keep the cat or dog out of the babys room.
Why Might Someone With Asthma Be Without An Inhaler
However, this doesnt mean that everyone with asthma has an inhaler with them at all times. Often when someone has been living without symptoms for a long time, they may assume that their asthma has gone, and so get out of the habit of carrying one. Some people might develop symptoms suddenly for the first time as an adult, with no preparation. Others might just sometimes forget. Unfortunately, not having an inhaler wont stop an attack.
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Risk Factors For Asthma
It isnt clear why some people get asthma in the first place while others do not. However, new evidence on what causes the disease and how it can be prevented is emerging.
Researchers have learned that many factors in a persons environment, in combination with their genes can cause asthma. For example, exposure to tobacco smoke, traffic pollution, and some substances that people are exposed to at work, such as formaldehyde, epoxy, isocyanates, diesel exhaust and other chemicals that can cause the disease.
For people with asthma, contact with these same materials can make their disease worse. The good news is that getting rid of or reducing exposures to these risk factors is possible, and doing so can help to prevent asthma from ever developing. For more information about primary prevention of asthma, please see Goal 5 of the Strategic Plan for Asthma in Massachusetts 2015-2020.
Side Effects Of Relievers And Preventers
Relievers are a safe and effective medicine, and have few side effects as long as they are not used too much. The main side effects include a mild shaking of the hands , headaches and muscle cramps. These usually only happen with high doses of reliever inhaler and usually only last for a few minutes.
Preventers are very safe at usual doses, although they can cause a range of side effects at high doses, especially with long-term use.
The main side effect of preventer inhalers is a fungal infection of the mouth or throat . You may also develop a hoarse voice and sore throat.
Using a spacer can help prevent these side effects, as can rinsing your mouth or cleaning your teeth after using your preventer inhaler.
Your doctor or nurse will discuss with you the need to balance control of your asthma with the risk of side effects, and how to keep side effects to a minimum.
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What Is An Asthma Action Plan
Your healthcare provider will work with you to develop an asthma action plan. This plan tells you how and when to use your medicines. It also tells you what to do if your asthma gets worse and when to seek emergency care. Understand the plan and ask your healthcare provider about anything you dont understand.
- Talk with your teen about the dangers of vaping.
- Vaping can cause severe lung damage. It can become permanent.
- Vaping can even cause death .
- Vaping tobacco also causes nicotine addiction.
- For these reasons, the legal age to purchase vaping products is 21 in the US.
- Encourage your teen to not start vaping or to give it up.
- Warning: home-made or street-purchased vaping solutions are the most dangerous.
How To Prevent Asthma Attacks At Night
The causes of nocturnal asthma are not fully understood. Although its hypothesized that it is a result of increased allergen exposure, increased mucus, hormonal secretion, lying in a horizontal position, and/or GERD.
Follow these tips to prevent nighttime asthma.
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Medical History And Physical Exam
Your doctor will ask about your risk factors for asthma and your . They may ask also about any known allergies. This includes how often symptoms occur, what seems to trigger your symptoms, when or where symptoms occur, and if your symptoms wake you up at night.
During the physical exam, your doctor may:
- Listen to your breathing and look for of asthma
- Look for allergic skin conditions, such as eczema
What Kind Of Physician Treats Adult Onset Asthma
Many older patients are treated for asthma by their internist or family physician however, if your asthma symptoms are not under control within three to six months, or if you have severe persistent asthma, or if you are having asthma episodes that need emergency treatment, it may be time to see an asthma specialist. Allergists/Immunologists or pulmonologists are specialists who treat asthma. Those who have completed training in those specialties are usually called board-certified or board-eligible.
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How Can I Reduce My Risk Of Catching A Cold Or The Flu If I Have Asthma
The NHS website has more advice on:
Will Medicine Help Me Breathe Better When I Exercise
Yes. Exercising, particularly in cold air, may cause airway swelling or exercise-induced bronchoconstriction . Quick-relief asthma medicines, taken before exercise, usually control this. If you need repeated doses of quick-relief medicine during and after exercise talk with your doctor. Your medicines may need to be adjusted. Thanks to these medicines, many Olympic and professional athletes have successful sports careers even with their asthma.
It is important for everyone, including people with asthma, to be as active as possible for good health. Talk with your doctor about how you can be physically active while keeping your asthma well-controlled.
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What Are The Complications Of Asthma
Poorly-controlled asthma can have a negative effect on your quality of life. Complications may include:
- being less productive at work or while studying
- an inability to exercise and be physically active
- reduced lung function
- poor mental health
Taking your medications exactly as prescribed is important. If you feel that your asthma is affecting your quality of life, contact your doctor for a medicines review.
What Are Common Medicines Or Treatments For Asthma
Treatment and medicines depend on how severe your asthma is and how frequently you have attacks.
- If you have mild asthma and less than two asthma attacks per week, your doctor may prescribe a rescue or emergency inhaler to use as needed for fast relief.
- If you have more than two asthma attacks per week, your doctor may diagnose you with persistent asthma. They may prescribe a daily medicine like a maintenance inhaler or anti-inflammatory. These prevent asthma symptoms, but may take a few days to start working. Its also important to keep taking your medicine even if youre feeling better.
Talk to your doctor if youre taking your medicine as directed and are avoiding triggers but still have asthma attacks.
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Managing Asthma And Colds Or The Flu
Unfortunately, the flu vaccine may not cover all flu viruses, and you may still get a cold despite your best efforts. Go on the defensive once a virus is in your system. “The best thing you can do is to have an asthma action plan in place that already anticipates the problem. This is something you should discuss with your doctor before cold and flu season starts,” says Neumeyer.
Here are five ways you can keep your asthma in check when you have a cold or the flu:
Asthma Triggers In Adults
People with asthma have airways that are more sensitive to some things that may not impact people without asthma. The things that set off or start symptoms are called triggers.
Adults with asthma are sensitive to the same kinds of triggers as younger people. However, every person with asthma has a different experience, and everyone may have a different trigger. You may have more than one trigger which flares up your asthma symptoms.
Triggers may include:
- in certain circumstances, thunderstorms.
Remember, for most people with asthma, triggers are only a problem when asthma is not well-controlled with preventer medicine.
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Controller And Reliever Medicines Work Together
There are two main kinds of asthma medicines: preventer medicine and rescue medicine. Each medicine is important, and each medicine does a different thing for your lungs.For most people with asthma, the doctor will prescribe both kinds of medicine:
You use a reliever inhaler to treat your symptoms when they occur. They should relieve your symptoms within a few minutes.
Some people think they can skip the preventer medicine and only use the rescue medicine. This is dangerous. If you’ve been prescribed a preventer medicine, use it. The rescue medicine by itself will not control your asthma over the long term. To make sure you get all your medicine into your lungs, be sure you know how to use your inhalation device.
Ways To Reduce Asthma Triggers
A little prep can go a long way toward making your home safe for family members with asthma.
1. Track it
Keep a log of when your child has difficulty breathing so you can look for patterns, Dr. Thakur says. Do they have attacks whenever theyre near your cat? Do most flare-ups strike when theyre in bed? Jot down the details, and share them with your doctor to help identify possible causes of asthma attacks.
2. Get tested
If youre having trouble seeing patterns, ask your doctor about allergy testing. Such tests can help pinpoint whether your kiddo is reacting to pet dander or struggling with mold exposure.
3. Make the bed
Stuffed animals, pillows and blankets can collect a lot of dust . Anything that harbors dust can trigger allergies, Dr. Thakur says. Take steps to asthma-proof the bedroom:
- Wash bedding and pillows frequently in hot water.
- Remove stuffed animals from the bed .
- Use hypoallergenic mattress and pillow covers.
4. Tidy up
You dont have to be a perfect housekeeper, but its good to keep dust levels in check. Vacuum rugs regularly. Mop hard floors to clear dust and pet dander. If cockroaches or mice are a problem, keep food securely stored and look into pest control options.
5. Pet-proof your place
6. Skip the smoke
Breathing second or thirdhand smoke even old smoke on someones clothes can increase the risk of asthma attacks, Dr. Thakur says. Family members who smoke should smoke outside and change their clothes when they come back in.
7. Manage mold
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What To Think About
One of the best tools for managing asthma is a daily controller medicine that has a corticosteroid . But some people worry about taking steroid medicines because of myths theyve heard about them. If youre making a decision about a steroid inhaler, it helps to know the facts.
At the start of asthma treatment, the number and dosage of medicines are chosen to get the asthma under control. Your doctor may start you at a higher dose within your asthma classification so that the inflammation is controlled right away. After the asthma has been controlled for several months, the dose of the last medicine added is reduced to the lowest possible dose that prevents symptoms. This is known as step-down care. Step-down care is believed to be a better way to control inflammation in the airways than starting at lower doses of medicine and increasing the dose if it is not enough.footnote 10
Because quick-relief medicine quickly reduces symptoms, people sometimes overuse these medicines instead of using the slower-acting long-term medicines. But overuse of quick-relief medicines may have harmful effects, such as reducing how well these medicines will work for you in the future.footnote 11
You may have to take more than one medicine each day to manage your asthma. Help yourself remember when to take each medicine, such as taping a note to your refrigerator to remind yourself.