Spring is here! The days are getting longer, flowers are starting to bloom, and the weather is warming up. Unfortunately, that also means asthma and allergy triggers are making their seasonal appearance.

Pollen is perhaps the most obvious springtime asthma and allergy offender. As weeds, trees, grass and other plants begin to blossom, they release pollen into the air. If you're allergic to pollen, you know what happens next—a constant onslaught of sneezes and sniffles. Allergic reactions can cause symptoms in your nose, lungs, throat, sinuses, ears, lining of the stomach or on the skin. For many people with allergic asthma, these triggers may result in asthma symptoms, that may make it more difficult to breathe or cause an asthma flare-up. Allergens such as pollen aren’t the only spring trigger. Air pollution and temperature changes can also make your symptoms worse. But that doesn’t mean you need to lock yourself inside.

Follow these tips to ensure you can enjoy all your favorite spring activities.

  1. Check the air quality both indoors and out every day.
    If you plan to be physically active outdoors, remember to scope out the environment first and be aware of any obvious triggers. The quality of the air we breathe affects each of us and can be especially troublesome for people with asthma. Check daily air quality levels and air pollution forecasts in your area. Learn more about how to improve and maintain your clean air at home, work and school.
  2. Lawn and garden maintenance.
    Before working in the yard, check your local pollen count. Consider gardening in the early morning or evening when the pollen count is at its lowest. Fertilizers and freshly cut grass can worsen asthma symptoms. When working the yard, consider wearing a mask to keep from breathing in particles. Don’t forget to change your clothes and shower away the pollen and pollutants once you come back in from your chores.
  3. It's a bug's life.
    Citronella candles and bug spray may keep mosquitoes at bay, but they can also trigger asthma symptoms. It may help to stay several feet away from any strong smelling candles, and when using mosquito repellent. Choose lotions that are unscented instead of aerosol sprays that will help reduce or avoid these triggers. Other tips that may help you when using repellant products are to empty flowerpots or other containers holding water, wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants and socks when outside and stay indoors at sunrise and sunset when mosquitoes are most active.
  4. Understand and use medications as prescribed.
    While limiting exposure can be helpful, you can never completely eliminate contact with all potential asthma and allergy triggers. This is why it is important to always use your maintenance or controller medications as prescribed and with proper technique, even if you are feeling well. If you have asthma, remember to keep your quick-relief (rescue) medicine (with a spacer or valved holding chamber) close at hand in case of symptoms. Review “How to use” your inhaled medicines properly with our newly updated videos and handouts or speak with your healthcare provider or pharmacist for more instruction. Other tools that may be helpful include a peak flow meter and a written Asthma Action Plan.

In addition, be sure to communicate with your healthcare provider during this high allergy season. Be sure to keep him or her informed if you begin having trouble controlling your asthma or allergy symptoms during the spring months. If asthma symptoms are increasing to two times a week or more, talk with your healthcare provider about adjusting your treatments or getting tested for common allergens with a simple blood test or skin prick test. Allergy testing may help you further identify your triggers. Your healthcare provider can help you recognize what makes your asthma worse, and find simple solutions to reduce and avoid asthma triggers. With your provider's help, you can create an asthma or allergy management plan to keep you feeling healthy and active with your asthma well controlled.

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