Gearing up for a healthy spring: How to manage asthma this allergy season
Estimated reading time: 3-5 minutes
Asthma insights from Cheryl Nickerson, respiratory therapist and clinical product manager at Philips Sleep & Respiratory Care
Spring has officially sprung, and while we welcome warmer weather and blooming flowers, we also face unwanted allergens such as pollen, dust mites and mold. In fact, 39% of the U.S. is already experiencing high levels of pollen this spring season . While this time of year can often be difficult for those with allergies, it can be even more challenging for people with asthma. While allergic rhinitis (nasal allergy) and asthma are different respiratory diseases, the two often occur together. About six million children under the age of 18 have asthma , and 90% of those with asthma also experience allergies .
Since asthma impacts so many children, it’s important parents understand how allergies and asthma affect each other. When people with asthma breathe in allergens, their bodies mistakenly identify a harmless substance as an invader - and in an attempt to protect their body from the substance, their immune system releases chemicals that affect the lungs and airways, causing asthma symptoms.
As the weather gets warmer and children start to play outside more often, it can be difficult for parents to manage their child’s asthma and active lifestyle. Fortunately, there are treatment and therapy options that help make it easier for children to take and adhere to their medication.
Dr. Stuart Abramson, director of the Allergy and Immunology Service at Shannon Clinic, recommends nebulizer therapy as particularly effective for some small children with asthma. “There’s definitely a time commitment associated with nebulizer therapy, but the advantage is continuous delivery of the medication and continuous exposure breathing in or out with the device. Even with other reliable forms of therapy, such as inhalers with or without spacers, there is a possibility that patients may not be taking as deep a breath perhaps. Certainly, in younger kids, they don't hold their breath, which is part of the proper single breath maneuver to optimally get the medicine into the lungs.”
Convenience is a key factor in ensuring children receive proper therapy while maintaining their active lifestyles, so it is imperative the healthcare industry develops solutions with that in mind. Creating technology that is portable, lightweight and allows for freedom of movement enables patients to take their medication anywhere, anytime. Putting the patients’ needs and convenience first, Philips recently developed a portable hand-held nebulizer that provides patients with asthma and other chronic respiratory conditions with therapy while on the move. The nebulizer takes away the time commitment typically needed for nebulization, as it is designed to deliver medication in just four minutes . With this, daily inhalation can be as easy as brushing teeth and can be ready for use anywhere, anytime.
In addition to therapy like nebulization, there are other ways parents can further help manage their child’s asthma this allergy season:
Take medication before allergy season hits. Parents often begin giving their children’s asthma medication when they first begin presenting symptoms at the beginning of allergy season; however, a child should be taking their medication in advance of the spring and fall allergy season, in accordance with doctor’s orders, so the medication is already in their system.
Don’t skip out on spring cleaning. 60-75% of children with asthma have allergies as a trigger. Dust and other allergens can pile up over the winter, so make sure to clean a child’s room before external triggers, such as pollen, appear .
Be mindful of the fresh air. While fresh air is great, keep the windows closed in a child’s room until allergy season has passed. This prevents them from breathing in new allergens that can make their asthma worse.