ith 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.
Know Early Warning Signs
of an Asthma Attack
Dr. Scott Schroeder demonstrates to his young patient, Demetri McCoy, how to breathe into the peak flow meter for his
pulmonary function test. |
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
For more information on the Asthma Center in Winthrop's Institute for Lung Care, call 1-800-218-0089.