Can’t wait to get outside after these chilly winter months? Most of us have been wishing for warm sunshine, bike rides, not having to wear big, insulated jackets and beautiful, blooming plants. As much as all of these sound nice, those who have asthma and/or allergies aren’t always thrilled about spring returning. Pollen really packs a punch!
Spring pollen from trees, grass and other plants is blown into the air all around us, making it almost impossible to avoid. Pollen can blow up to 50 miles, so you don’t have to be standing right next to a tree or a flower bed to come into contact with it.
Allergic reactions to pollen can cause symptoms in your throat, nose, lungs, sinuses, ears, lining of the stomach or skin. Allergies can also heighten asthma symptoms, making it harder to breathe. And it may not always just be pollen causing symptoms. Air pollution and temperature changes can worsen your symptoms.
There are a few ways to enjoy the outdoors while keeping your asthma at bay. Try to avoid going outside when pollen levels are high, usually 5 a.m. through 10 a.m. You can also track pollen levels on multiple websites and mobile apps. Turn on your air conditioning instead of opening your windows. Wash your clothes and take a shower after being outside so as to not transfer pollen indoors.
Find someone else to take care of your yard and lawn. Keeping your grass short will help keep pollen at bay. If you must do it yourself, wear a mask and take your medication beforehand to minimize pollen inhalation.
If you hang your clothes and other items outside to dry, don’t. Dry them indoors. If you work out, do it inside. If you do exercise outside, take your asthma medications before you go to help prevent an asthma attack.
These steps help keep your allergies and asthma under control. However, they aren’t always enough. Medication may need to be used to alleviate your symptoms during the high-pollen spring months. Consult your primary care provider if you know you’ll need medications for the upcoming seasons. It’s best to be prepared.
If you have asthma, make sure your prescriptions are filled before spring arrives. It’s also a good idea to have quick-relief medication around in case of flare-ups. Some people stop using their asthma medications during the off seasons because they feel fine. If you’re one of them, get back on track before spring catches you off guard.
Follow any treatment plans you have for asthma and/or allergies. Also, wear an allergy bracelet. Sometimes a person may be unable to speak due to shortness of breath. Allergy bracelets can be life savers if you’re in a place where no one knows you have asthma or allergies. It is recommended you wear these medical identity badges all the time to alert medical workers in an emergency. Better safe than sorry.
Make sure you talk with your primary care provider if you have trouble controlling your asthma or allergy symptoms during spring. If you are having more severe allergies or asthma, please schedule a visit with your primary care provider as soon as possible. If you do not have a primary care provider, please call 317-880-8687.
Nydia Nunez-Estrada, M.D.
Eskenazi Health Urgent Care East