According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, 45 million people in the United States suffer from nasal allergies, and another 25 million from asthma–both of which are aggravated by pollen and other allergens that are common in spring. According to the Center for Disease Control, in 2008, an estimated 1,271,563 adults in Texas had asthma. The allergy season this year is predicted to be one of the worst in decades due to the polar vortex that impacted America earlier this year and the long winter that followed. The late arrival of spring and high pollen counts could make this season particularly challenging for asthma sufferers. If you are one of the millions who suffers from asthma or allergies the following information will help you avoid complications this season, learn about prevention, and treatment options.
What is the Pollen Vortex?
If you haven’t heard the term ”Pollen Vortex” already, in the coming weeks you are sure to. After the polar vortex demanded our attention earlier this year with severe winter storms, experts have created a nickname for what they see coming this spring–the Pollen Vortex. This nickname was born from the belief that the long winter delayed the normal start of the pollen season and with the rapid onset of warm weather, plants that typically bloom at varying times over a period of weeks will bloom all at once. All that blooming equates to a massive amount of pollen in the air.
How Climate Affects Your Allergies
Plant pollination cycles are greatly influenced by the temperature. Plants don’t release pollen in cold temperatures. As CO2 levels and global temperatures rise, plant pollination cycles have lengthened and become more forceful. Record temperatures have resulted in record pollen counts. Scientists are not sure why some people have heightened sensitivities to pollen and other allergens, but the discomfort that results is devastating and costs millions of dollars annually in treatment and missed work wages.
Warm temperatures and high levels of CO2 are perfect growing conditions for all plants. But, allergenic plants, especially grasses and weeds, will reap the most benefits from these conditions due to their rapid growth and adaptable nature. The prevalence of these plants triggers increased symptoms among those living with allergies.
According to WebMD, Wind contributes to the severity of your allergies because it causes greater distribution of pollen and mold. Plant pollens that ride the wind are responsible for most nose, eye, and lung allergic reactions.
How to Avoid Asthma Complications this Spring
To avoid allergy and asthma complications this spring you need to take a proactive role. The following suggestions will aid you in taking preventive measures:
- See your healthcare professional early. While March is the best time to get into your doctor, it is not too late to schedule a consultation. You and your doctor can find out what allergies you have through allergy testing and map out what control medicines you will need in advance to stay on top of your symptoms instead of under them.
- Have your medicines on hand. Check the prescription dates on your medications and make sure you have what you need in terms of rescue inhalers, albuterol and/or oral steroids. A good stock of antihistamines will also help you out. You and your doctor can establish a treatment and prevention plan that specifically meets your needs.
- Change your clothes and wash your hair frequently. Increased allergens in the air can be combated by limiting the amount of pollen you bring into your living environment. After spending time outdoors, wash your hair and clothes to decrease the amount of allergens you have on you and inside your home.
- Wash your sheets more often. Don’t surround yourself for hours in a bed of allergens. Keeping your sheets clean will help you rest and rise better.
- Check your local pollen forecast. If pollen counts are particularly high one day, or are forecasted to be high, be prepared. Pollen counts as low as 100 can trigger allergy symptoms. Take your medications and stay inside.
- Stay inside and close your windows. As tempting as the warm weather is to spend increased time outside, allergy and asthma sufferers should avoid being outside as much as possible and keep their windows closed so the wind doesn’t bring everything inside your home. Just a few minutes outside can lead to serious problems for anyone with pollen sensitivities.
Treatment Options for Allergies and Asthma
Diagnosing your symptoms is an important part of allergy/asthma treatment. Make sure what you are feeling is allergies. Allergies don’t typically come on suddenly. They aren’t accompanied by fever or chills. Sneezing, coughing, watery eyes and a runny nose are common symptoms of allergies. If you are unsure what your symptoms are manifesting, consult your healthcare professional for an examination.
There are an array of treatment options available for allergy and asthma sufferers. You and your doctor can decide what you need to keep your symptoms at bay. Some common treatment options are: allergy shots, asthma controller medications like albuterol and steroids, antihistamines, neti pots, and over-the-counter medications.
Schedule a Preventive Appointment with Your Doctor
Be prepared this allergy season. Take a proactive role in your health by scheduling an appointment with your healthcare professional today. Freedom Health Centers has solutions for McKinney residents who want to know what is making them so uncomfortable.
Call us at (972) 542-3300 today for a consultation.