Don’t let allergies and asthma limit you in your daily activities
Have you seen the movie Hitch with Will Smith and Kevin James? I think it was written by someone with allergies and asthma! First, consider that one of the main characters is named “Allegra,” which is a common medication used to treat allergies. Who can forget the scene where Hitch has the allergic reaction to the food he ate? Lastly, what chronic condition does Albert have? Asthma! Right before he goes to kiss Allegra, he throws his rescue inhaler aside for the dramatic first kiss!
The allergy and asthma themes threaded throughout the movie are striking. As we head towards August and September, which are traditionally difficult months for those with allergies and asthma, I have thought about Hitch quite often. Frequently, people have less control of their allergies and asthma during these months resulting in more visits to the doctor. Hopefully by following a few suggestions, instead of you or your children losing control of your allergies and asthma during a traditionally tough time, you can achieve better control of them. Rather than using your rescue inhaler more often, you can toss it aside like Albert, and then do the things you really want to do!
10 tips for better allergy and asthma control
Severe consequences can occur when an allergic person’s immune system produces the allergic antibody called IgE (immunoglobulin E) in response to a drug. When the person’s body encounters the drug again, IgE antibodies bound to certain cells, called mast cells, can result in an explosive release of histamine and other chemicals. This triggers symptoms of an allergic reaction. The most frequent symptoms include:
- Skin rashes, particularly hives
- Respiratory problems, such as wheezing
- Swelling of areas of the body and face
Treatment for drug allergies
1. Find out about your school/work environment.
- Tour the facility to identify potential asthma/allergy triggers. Ask staff about school/work policies regarding foods and animals brought into the building.
- If symptoms flare up at school/work, it may be the result of exposure to environmental allergens such as animal dander brought in on the clothing of pet-owning classmates or colleagues or mold growth in the building. Try to understand when and where symptoms worsen and work to implement control measures.
2. Check with your local school district regarding their food allergy and asthma action plan policies. Many school districts have diminished nursing staff. Ensure there are policies in place and properly trained staff who can recognize an emergent situation and initiate appropriate treatment.
3. Find out if your children’s school allows them to keep inhaled medications in their possession. Asthma students should be permitted to have inhaled medications in their possession for the treatment and the prevention of asthma symptoms when they are prescribed by that student’s physician. Keep your rescue medication with you at work.
4. If your child has exercise-induced asthma, make sure that coaches and gym teachers are familiar with your child’s condition and doctor’s recommendations regarding pretreatment and acute or emergency asthma treatment. Include phone numbers to call with questions or in case of an emergency.
5. Recognize subtle symptoms of allergies and asthma:
- Children acting up, increased irritability, temper tantrums
- Decreased ability to concentrate
- Fatigue, recurrent sinusitis or bronchitis
- Coughing with activity or at night
- If you or your child is using a rescue inhaler more than two times a week, talk to your physician
6. Seek medical advice from a specialist. Use caution with over-the-counter medications (OTC) if you suffer from allergies, asthma, or chronic fatigue. Some OTC allergy medications may do more harm than good. They’re more impairing than being intoxicated with an alcohol level above the legal limit.
7. Get allergy tested by a board certified allergist. If you or your child have asthma and have not had a proper allergy assessment, then a significant portion of your treatment may be missing. Know what your allergy and asthma triggers are.
8. Do not ignore symptoms!
9. Seek to prevent allergy and asthma problems instead of reacting to them.
10. Do what you want! Allergies and asthma do not need to limit you. With proper diagnosis, treatment, and preventative measures, you should be able to do the things in life you want to, without limitations.