Asthma in the Spring

Asthma is chronic inflammatory condition of the airways of the lungs.  Asthma can affect both allergic and non-allergic individuals.   There is an increased risk of developing asthma if there is a family history of asthma or allergies.  Most people that have asthma also have allergic rhinitis (hay fever).  On the other hand, about half of the individuals that have allergic rhinitis also have asthma.  About 8% of the U.S. population has asthma.  Asthma is the most common chronic condition in children.  Asthma prevalence has been increasing over the last few decades.  The average child with asthma misses between 4 to 5 days of school per year due to asthma.  The average adult with asthma misses about 5 days of work per year due to asthma.  The annual cost on the U.S. healthcare system just due to asthma is about $20 billion.  There is an additional $10 billion per year added to the healthcare system just due to allergies alone.  The statistics above are staggering and people with allergies and asthma need to realize how prevalent their diseases are and that allergists (who specialize in treating allergies and asthma) can help reduce their suffering and help reduce unnecessary emergency room visits and admissions to the hospital, which greatly increase the costs of these diseases.

As we are in the Spring season, many individuals with allergic asthma may begin to experience a worsening of their asthma.  The symptoms that one experiences typically can be any or all of the following:  wheezing, shortness of breath, chest tightness, and/or cough.

Asthma can be life-threatening and it is imperative that one is taught about the symptoms and what should be done depending on the severity of one’s symptoms.

It is important that the asthmatic individual understand their triggers and to try to avoid the offending trigger.  In the Spring, tree pollens, grass pollens, and molds are largely responsible for causing asthma exacerbations.  It is thus important for individuals with asthma to practice pollen avoidance measures which include the following recommendations:

  1. Monitor pollen counts daily.
  2. Stay indoors wherever possible when the pollen count is high (generally on dry warmer days).  Note that rain washes pollen from the air causing pollen counts to be lower on wet cooler days.
  3. Since pollen is released in the early mornings, try to avoid exercising during this time.
  4. Avoid drying clothes outdoors when the pollen count is elevated.
  5. Avoid contact lenses which may trap pollen in one’s eyes.
  6. Turn on the air conditioner and change air filters regularly (about once a month).
  7. Keep one’s windows and sunroof closed.
  8. Use the re-circulate feature in the car so that the air is not coming into the vehicle from the outside.
  9. Choose an automobile that has a filter in its air conditioning unit, if possible.
  10. Avoid yard work and mowing lawns.  If a person needs to do yard work, wear a filtration face mask in order to diminish exposure to the pollen.
  11. If one goes outdoors, shower, wash one’s hair, and change one’s clothing upon returning home to decrease pollen exposure.
  12. Wash your pets regularly and avoid close contact with a pet that goes outdoors during the pollen season since they carry pollen on their coats.

The board certified allergists at Black & Kletz Allergy have the expertise in diagnosing and treating asthma in adults and children.  We have been treating the people of the Washington, DC, Northern Virginia, and Maryland metropolitan area for more than 50 years.  It is important that the allergist take a thorough history and examination from the individual as not everyone that has “asthma symptoms” ends up having asthma.  There is an important saying in medicine which states that “All that wheezes is not asthma.”  This means that there are many other medical conditions that can present with wheezing that are not asthma.  Some of these medical conditions include heart disease, COPD (emphysema and/or chronic bronchitis), GERD (acid reflux), etc.  Once diagnosed, there are a multitude of treatment options to control one’s asthma.  The allergists and staff at Black & Kletz Allergy are diligent in educating the patient with asthma on what to look for and how to assess their severity of disease at any given time.  An asthma plan is discussed with individuals and inhaler technique is demonstrated to the patients.  Research shows that patients notoriously use their inhalers incorrectly unless they are shown the correct method.  Medications used to treat asthma can include several types and classes of lung inhalers, tablets, capsules, syrups, granules, and Xolair (omalizumab) injections in select patients.  Allergy shots (i.e., allergy immunotherapy, allergy injections) are a very effective way to treat asthma and have been used very successfully for more than 100 years.  The allergists at Black & Kletz Allergy also make themselves available 24 hours a day/ 7 days a week for any questions or concerns that you might have regarding your allergies and/or asthma.

If you would like a consultation for your asthma symptoms, please call us at Black & Kletz Allergy to make an appointment.  Alternatively, you can click Request an Appointment and we will get back in touch with you within 24 hours of the next business day.  We have 3 convenient locations in the Washington, DC metropolitan area with office locations in Washington, DC, McLean, VA (Tysons Corner, VA) and Manassas, VA.  There is parking at each location and the Washington, DC and McLean, VA locations are also accessible by using the Metro.  We would be happy to assist you in diagnosing your asthma symptoms and helping you manage your asthma so that you can participate in the things you enjoy without the constant fear of your asthma symptoms.