Asthma and Allergy Awareness Brought to you by CuddleBugs at Lake Norman Regional Medical Center

MOORESVILLE, NC (May 3, 2013) –  Breathe easier …the days are warming up, everything’s in bloom, and summer is just around the corner.  As lovely as this time of year is, it's also peak season for asthma and allergy sufferers.  According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, more than 60 million adults and children in the U.S. are living with asthma and allergies, making these chronic diseases among the most common and costly.

This May, in recognition of National Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month, CuddleBugs at Lake Norman Regional Medical Center would like to familiarize you with common allergy and asthma triggers, and offer some tips to reduce allergens in your home.

What are allergies and asthma?

Allergies are an overreaction of the immune system to substances, or allergens, that don't normally cause a reaction in most individuals.  Symptoms such as sneezing, congestion, runny nose, itching, and tearing eyes can indicate an allergy.  People can also be allergic to foods, medications, insect stings and latex.

Asthma is a chronic disease that affects the lungs, causing airways to become inflamed.  The muscles around the airways can tighten due to certain triggers, including the same allergens that cause allergies as well as viruses, smoke and other pollutants, changes in weather, and exercise.  Triggers cause the airways to narrow, causing symptoms such as coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, and chest tightness or pain — also known as an asthma attack.

Both allergies and asthma can usually be managed well with the right treatment plan.  If you or your child has symptoms, your doctor or pediatrician can help determine what the triggers are and then develop an appropriate management plan. Limiting exposure to outdoor triggers and reducing indoor allergens can help you manage these conditions more effectively.

Avoiding pollen

Although most people think of flowers when they think of pollen, the types of pollen that most commonly cause allergies are from trees, grasses and weeds.  If anyone in your family is allergic to pollen, pay attention to pollen counts and keep children indoors with windows closed on days with high pollen counts.  In the spring and summer, pollen levels are highest in the evening, so plan outdoor activities for earlier in the day.

Tips for reducing indoor allergens

The most common indoor allergens include droppings from dust mites and cockroaches, pet dander and mold — all of which can trigger symptoms in both allergy and asthma sufferers.  You can reduce allergens in your home by:

  • Dusting surfaces, vacuuming floors, and washing bedding often to reduce dust mites and pet dander.  If pet dander is a problem, consider keeping pets out of bedrooms. Use a vacuum with a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter.
  • Keeping food in sealed containers and using lidded garbage cans in the kitchen to avoid cockroaches.  Keep floors, counters, cupboards and other areas where crumbs and food can accumulate clean, and wash dishes immediately.  Call an exterminator if necessary.
  • Limiting the number of indoor plants in your home — houseplants can be a source of both pollen and mold.
  • Fixing leaks to prevent mold and cleaning any moldy areas, particularly in damp areas such as bathrooms, kitchens and along windows.  Keep areas clean and dry, and keep humidity low by using air conditioning or a dehumidifier.
  • Using an air purifier with a HEPA filter to further protect against airborne allergens.

You and your family don’t have to suffer with allergies and asthma. Follow your doctor’s or pediatrician’s treatment plan and take these extra steps to banish allergens from your home.

Symptoms of pediatric asthma

Pediatric asthma is the most common disease in infants and children. According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, the majority of children who develop asthma do so before age 5. Often difficult to diagnose, symptoms may include:

  • Wheezing or a whistling sound when breathing.
  • Coughing.
  • Rapid or labored breathing.
  • Complaints of chest pain.
  • Reduced energy.
  • Feeling weak and tired.

Although asthma can't be cured, it can be controlled with the right treatment plan. It's important to avoid asthma triggers and follow the prescribed treatment plan in order to prevent damage to the child's growing lungs.

Sources

American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology

Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America

Remember that this information is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor, but rather to increase awareness and help equip patients with information and facilitate conversations with your physician that will benefit your health.

About Lake Norman Regional Medical Center

Lake Norman Regional Medical Center offers comprehensive medical care to individuals throughout the greater Lake Norman region. Located just off I-77 at Exit 33, the Mooresville medical campus offers complete specialty services from 24-hour emergency medicine and maternity to oncology and advanced surgical services.

About CuddleBugs

CuddleBugs is a free program designed to provide answers to new and expectant moms from the earliest stages of pregnancy through post-delivery – including guidance for newborn care. For more information about CuddleBugs, visit www.CuddleBugsBaby.com