Allergy Season Can Wreak Havoc on Asthmatics - Know the Warning Signs of Asthma and its Triggers


Vol. 13, No. 1
April, 2003

  • Winthrop Researchers Publish Major Breakthrough - Results Impact Life-Threatening Lung Disease in Premature Babies

  • Winthrop's "Dome of Light and Hope" Dedicated to a Four-Year-Old Miracle of Love

  • During These Uncertain Times Winthrop Takes Measures to Ensure Health of Hospital and Community

  • Winthrop's Bioterrorism Plan - a Hospital at the Ready

  • Winthrop Offers New Hope for Patients Living with Chronic Digestive Diseases

  • Plans for a New, Expanded Endoscopy Suite Underway

  • Allergy Season Can Wreak Havoc on Asthmatics - Know the Warning Signs of Asthma and its Triggers

  • 'We Searched the World for You'... Winthrop's International Adoption Program Helps Bring Families Together

  • Winthrop Takes Giant Leap to Eliminate Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Healthcare

  • Winthrop's New Pre-Admission Testing Center Offers Patients Streamlined Services in One Modern Location

  • Accolades for Winthrop's Diabetes Education Center's Self Management Program

  • 'Winthrop's New Pediatric Diabetes Program Receives National Recognition from American Diabetes Association

  • Jay's World Childhood Cancer Foundation Pledges $100,000 to Winthrop-University Hospital's New Pediatric Inpatient Center

  • Tips for living better with asthma

  • Winthrop's Newly Renovated Emergency Department Officially Dedicated

  • 18th annual golf tournament

  • Copyright

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  • Pith the first thaw from a long, cold winter comes blooming trees, flowers and increased pollen counts, causing allergy and asthma sufferers to sneeze, wheeze and run for the indoors. At its peak around May, allergy season also takes its toll on asthmatics, who find that their conditions are often aggravated by irritants in the air.

    The Asthma Center at Winthrop advises people with asthma to recognize the signs and symptoms in order to prevent and control the frequency of attacks.

    According to Luz Fonacier, MD, Head of the Section of Allergy and Immunology at Winthrop, "Asthmatics often suffer more during peak allergy season because high pollen counts can trigger asthma attacks in addition to allergies." She explained that allergies in general could trigger an asthma attack because of chemicals released into the body that cause inflammation in the lungs.

    "During allergy season, people who suffer from both seasonal asthma and year-round asthma should keep windows in the home and the car closed and minimize outdoor activities during high pollen days," added Dr. Fonacier. "Turn on the air conditioner whenever possible to filter out the airborne irritants and allergens."

    In addition, those who suffer from year-round asthma should also avoid irritants such as cigarette smoke, and allergens such as pet dander and dust mites which can be present in everything from mattresses to carpeting. For asthmatics, hardwood floors are more favorable than carpets, and bedding should be washed at least once a week in hot water to kill dust mites. Dust mite covers on mattresses and box springs can also minimize allergy and asthma-related problems.

    Dr. Scott Schroeder demonstrates to his young patient, Demetri McCoy, how to breathe into the peak flow meter for his pulmonary function test.
    Know Early Warning Signs of an Asthma Attack

    Adam Hurewitz, MD, Chief of Pulmonology at Winthrop explained, "While asthma symptoms can vary in different people, some of the warning signs of an attack can include a feeling of breathlessness, development of a cough or an ache in the chest. Another sign of worsening asthma is more frequent use of rescue inhalers (i.e. albuterol) or nocturnal awakening with asthma symptoms."

    Dr. Hurewitz suggests that asthmatics use a peak flow meter on a regular basis to know their optimal level of air intake.

    "A fall in a patient's peak flow of air below 80 percent of what is normal for them is usually a good indication of worsening asthma," explained Dr. Hurewitz who recommended that people call their healthcare provider when peak flow is between 50 and 80 percent.

    Parents should also note symptoms of asthma in their children, especially during the onset of the spring allergy season. Scott Schroeder, MD, Director of Pediatric Pulmonology at Winthrop explained that some of the first signs that a child may be developing asthma include a nighttime cough, colds lasting longer than usual and wheezing with colds. He warns, however, that not all wheezing means asthma so it's best to have the child examined by his or her pediatrician.

    According to Dr. Hurewitz, "The best way to prevent future asthma attacks and improve overall quality of life is through the use of controller medications such as inhaled corticosteroids. Patients should also speak with their healthcare providers about creating an asthma action plan."

    The Asthma Center At Winthrop - Helping Improve Lives In The Community

    For more than three years, Winthrop's Asthma Center has been helping people in the community live better with asthma through health fairs, education and advocacy. The Center recently implemented its education program in schools throughout Long Island, reaching out to school nurses, teachers, students and parents on the prevalence of asthma, techniques for prevention of asthma attacks in children and how to treat someone in the midst of an attack.

    "We serve as a valuable community resource, educating people on emergency management of asthma and allergic diseases," stated Mara Bernstein, Administrative Director of Outpatient Services in Winthrop's Asthma Center.

    The Asthma Center offers patients the benefit of a multidisciplinary approach to care through its highly-trained group of physicians, nurses, respiratory therapists and allied healthcare personnel whose goal is to improve the lives of adults and children living with asthma. From comprehensive evaluations and diagnostic testing to education programs and support groups, the Asthma Center offers patients broad scope healthcare options and hope.

    For more information on the Asthma Center in Winthrop's Institute for Lung Care, call 1-800-218-0089.



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