In 1984, the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) declared May to be “National Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month.”
With May being peak season for both allergies and asthma, it’s an opportune time to discuss the conditions that affect more than 65 million Americans.
Allergies are a hypersensitive immune response to allergens in the environment. If you’ve ever suffered from seasonal or recurring allergies, you know how unpleasant the experience is.
And if you feel as though this year your allergies are worse than usual, you’re not alone. Oklahoma City was ranked 18th in the nation for “Most Challenging Places to Live with Spring Allergies” this year. Ragweed, grass, and tree pollen continue to lead the allergen count thanks to native trees like Oak, Mulberry, and Hackberry.
Allergens cause a variety of annoying symptoms like sneezing, itchy eyes and throat, a runny nose, skin rashes or hives, and asthma.
The most common allergens include:
- Dust mites
- Pet dander
- Insect stings
- Certain foods or medications
If your allergies interfere with your daily life, medication or frequent allergy shots can help. However, there are home remedies that may bring you some relief.
Home remedies to try for your allergies include:
Sea salt nasal spray
Using saline nasal irrigation has proven to be an effective way to help clear nasal ways for children and adults. Frequent (non-medicated) nasal spray can help keep your passageways open, improving breathing and reducing nasal symptoms.
Using HEPA filters inside the home
HEPA, or high-efficiency particulate air filters, traps pollen, hair, dust, and other airborne irritants inside your home. This helps reduce the number of allergens you’re exposed to, lessening your reactions.
Locally produced honey
Although there isn’t scientific evidence to support this claim, many people swear by eating local honey during allergy season. In theory, since the bees collect pollen in your area to make their honey, eating it will lessen your response to the pollen by getting your body used to it.
Similar to HEPA filters, dehumidifiers dry out the air in your home. This helps keep allergens like mold, mildew, and dust mites at bay and your living space feeling fresh and clean.
An analysis of 23 studies was published in 2015, which indicated the benefits of taking probiotics for easing allergy symptoms.
Again in 2015, a review of 13 different studies found that acupuncture produced positive results against allergies.
Do not use at-home remedies if your allergic reactions are severe or cause anaphylaxis, where you experience anaphylactic shock.
Signs of anaphylactic shock include:
- Trouble breathing
- Tightness in lungs
- Chest pains
- Changes in blood pressure
If you experience anaphylaxis, consult with your healthcare provider immediately, as you may need an EpiPen.
Asthma and allergies often go hand-in-hand, and there are several types of asthma, including allergic asthma, which is triggered by allergens in the air like mold or pollen.
Asthma is a condition in which someone’s airways become inflamed, swollen, and narrow, causing them to produce extra mucus. This reaction blocks their airways and makes it difficult to breathe properly.
Five common symptoms of asthma can include:
- Coughing (sometimes worse at night)
- Shortness of breath
- Fast breathing
- Chest tightness, pain, or pressure
In addition to asthma symptoms, when you encounter an allergy trigger, you may experience swelling, sneezing, and a runny nose.
Common asthma triggers include:
- Tobacco smoke
- Smoke from burning wood or grass
- Dust mites
- Outdoor air pollution
Triggers can vary from person to person, so it’s best to learn your triggers and try to avoid them at all costs.
If the severity of your symptoms gets worse, it can cause an asthma attack. Asthma attacks can either come on suddenly or sneak up slowly, and severe asthma attacks require medical attention as soon as possible.
If you or your child suffer from allergies or asthma, is it truly under control?
Do you or your child:
- Miss work or school because of allergies or asthma?
- Lose out on events or special activities because of allergies or asthma?
- Occasionally go to the emergency room because of allergic reactions or asthma?
- Awaken at night with allergies or asthma more than two times a month?
- Take your “quick-relief inhaler” more than two times a week? Or refill your “quick-relief inhaler” more than two times a year?
If you answered “yes” to any of the questions above, your allergies or asthma is not under control, and you should contact your healthcare provider about treatment. Treating your symptoms can improve your day-to-day life drastically!
If you or a loved one experiences an allergic reaction or asthma attack, we’re here to help. Our team of highly-trained physicians are equipped to treat any type of medical emergency, and we stay open 24/7, 365 days a year.
For more information, resources, or helpful tips, visit the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America website. And share this article to help spread the word for National Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month!