Unlocking the Asthma-Allergy Connection
Why Getting Tested Can Lead to Better Breathing
(May 7, 2015)
Spring is in the air! For people with asthma, the warmer weather can mean trouble. As the pollen count rises and mold spores increase, so do the chances of breathing problems. All that wheezing and sneezing caused by the springtime growing season can dramatically increase the onset of asthma symptoms and make life unpleasant for people with asthma.
Many people with asthma also suffer from both outdoor and indoor allergies, which can trigger asthma symptoms and severe attacks. Knowing what you're allergic to can help guide you to take the steps necessary to control and avoid the things that make you wheeze and sneeze.
Identifying Your Unique Asthma Triggers
If you have daily asthma symptoms that are not well-controlled with your asthma medicines, talking to your healthcare provider about scheduling an allergy test can get you on the path to better breathing. There are two types of testing procedures that can identify your unique asthma and allergy triggers. The first is a skin test, which is usually performed by an allergist. The testing procedure involves placing a small amount of concentrated, common allergens under your skin. Your body's reaction to each substance helps the allergist pinpoint and address your specific allergies.
The second is a simple blood test performed or ordered by your primary healthcare provider. Both tests are recommended by the National Institutes of Health and provide similar information to help you better navigate the things that you are exposed to in your environment.
Continue to use your asthma medicines even when you're feeling well.
Knowing your asthma and allergy triggers can be empowering and also help you experience more symptom-free days. But remember—just because you're feeling better doesn't mean you should stop taking your asthma medicines.
- Always be sure to take your asthma medicines as prescribed by your asthma care provider.
- Never leave home without your quick-relief medicine (i.e. Albuterol).
- Continue to follow your Asthma Action Plan.
Taking Charge of Your Surroundings
If you do test positive for allergies, you make need to make some changes to your environment. That can be an adjustment and may mean some compromise is needed among those in your household and even workplace in order to accommodate your unique health needs. You are likely to find that as your health improves, others around you may begin to breathe better as well.
Switching to fragrance-free cleaning and personal care products and keeping pets out of the bedroom can address many asthma and allergy triggers on the home front. Going the extra mile to reduce dust, clean and prevent mold and keep pests away will make for a healthier home environment. Additional cleanup and prevention tips can be found here.
Because so much of our time is spent either in the workplace or at school, these environments often require the most attention. The American Lung Association has created a comprehensive Guide to Controlling Asthma at Work that can help you identify the most common asthma triggers found in the workplace and advocate for safer and healthier work conditions.
Through the Asthma-Friendly Schools Initiative, the Lung Association is empowering parents and educators to make every school safe for children and teens with asthma.
Keeping Current with Your Healthcare Provider
Above all, your healthcare provider is your best ally in controlling your asthma symptoms. Regular checkups are a must, even when you're feeling well. If you find yourself having asthma symptoms and reaching for your quick-relief inhaler more than two times a week, don't delay in calling your health care provider for an appointment.
Having asthma shouldn't be a daily struggle to breathe. Better breathing can be just a phone call away. Make time to consult your health care provider today!
If you don't have health insurance, it isn't too late to get covered under the Affordable Care Act. The Lung HelpLine is available to assist you. Start by calling 1-800-LUNG-USA or visiting Healthcare.gov today.