Monday, November 7, 2016

Ways to combat Fall Allergies

The allure of fall can be mesmerizing.  Cooler temperatures, breathtaking landscapes, and the warmth of cozy sweaters bring us out into nature for hiking, pumpkin picking, and Halloween parties.  It seems everywhere you look there is a celebration of the last days of the year before winter takes hold. For many fall is a time of severe allergies and asthma.

Rapidly changing temperatures can trigger asthma attacks.  Mold spores from rapidly decaying leaves and late fall weed pollens trigger itchy watery eyes, and nasal symptoms.  Seasonal baked goods are sources of hidden food allergens for many.

What are some tips for you to help prevent allergy symptoms this Fall in New York City so you can enjoy the season to the fullest?

1) Carry a scarf. Wrapping a scarf around your neck and mouth is an easy way to help prevent an asthma attack.  It also provides protection against airborn allergens such as ragweed, mold spores, and fall weed pollens.  The scarf also helps to warm and humidify dry cold air.

2) Keep your rescue asthma pumps handy.
Fall is a time of rapidly changing temperatures and wind gusts.  Changing temperatures can trigger an asthma attack for many.  Wind gusts can bring up pollen and mold spores bringing about an asthma attack.  Asthma symptoms of cough, chest tightness, SOB and wheezing can can be prevented by using a rescue inhaler before symptoms start.  Make sure you inhaler isn't expired!

3) Know what you're allergic too.  Knowing you triggers is an easy way to prevent an allergy attack.  Many with allergies this time of the year think they are coming down with recurrent colds and sinus infections.  Once they learn that they have allergies and the environment is making them sick, they can take preventative measures to stop allergies in their track.  See your allergist to get updated testing. Not sure if you have allergies?  Take the Allergy Symptom Test.

4) Monitor for Food Allergies
Autumn is the being of a heavy social calendar for most.  Invitations to Halloween parties, Friends-giving, housewarmings and fall weddings fill calendars.  Don't be the guest at your next event that needs to call 911 because they've had an anaphylactic reaction to a hidden food ingredient.  Make sure you inspect Halloween candy before it's eaten for nuts, seeds and dyes, tell your hosts of your food allergies so they can plan ahead and even offer to bring your own food before going out.  Take this opportunity to inspect your epinephrine's expiration date. Review your anaphylaxis plan before heading out for the end of the years social scene.

5) Prevent Asthma Symptoms Before Exercising
Many of my patients are running fall races this season.  They complain of having to stop secondary to asthma symptoms and aren't able to exercise their hardest.  Uncontrolled symptoms of asthma slows them down and they are looking for tips to prevent symptoms.  Here are a few tips to prevent symptoms before they strike.

  • Breathe thru your nose.  Your nose will help warm and humidify cold air.  
  • Run with a mask or scarf
  • Cool down after exercise.
  • Use your rescue inhaler