5 Ways to Keep Asthma From Making You Sick
The cool, crisp days of autumn can be a refreshing treat after a hot, humid summer. Yet with the change of season also comes an increased risk of illness that can lead to fall asthma.
It's no coincidence that many asthmatics visit the emergency room in the fall and early winter. The cooler temperatures, changes in mold and pollen in the air, and increased time spent indoors where germs can flourish, can all make you susceptible to becoming sick at this time of year. For people with asthma, a simple cold or virus can lead to a variety of complications, including pneumonia.
How to Avoid Fall Asthma
The best way to prevent getting sick this autumn is to take some simple steps to stay in good health. Enjoy the season and breathe easy with these five tips to avoid sickness:
1. Take care of yourself. It's important to eat a balance diet, exercise regularly, manage your stress level, and get plenty of sleep to keep yourself feeling your best. This can help strengthen your immune system so you can fight against the array of germs you're sure to come into contact with this season.
2. Wash your hands often with soap and hot water. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) say this is crucial to avoid getting sick and to prevent passing on germs to others. When you don't have access to a sink, the CDC suggests using a hand sanitizer that has at least 60 percent alcohol to kill any germs on your hands. It's also essential to steer clear of sick people to minimize your exposure to germs.
3. Avoid allergy triggers. While you might associate spring and summer as high allergy season, many people with allergic asthma suffer as much in the fall. Outdoor fall allergens include pollen, mold spores, and ragweed, while inside triggers include dust mites, mold, scented products, chemicals, and pet dander. Some researchers suggest that even if you can't prevent getting a cold, by minimizing your exposure to other triggers, you may be able to prevent the illness from making your asthma worse.
4. Get a flu shot. The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (AAAAI) recommends that adults with asthma get a flu shot every year. Ideally, this will keep you from getting sick. But if you do come down with an illness anyway, the experts say that being vaccinated can also help minimize the severity of your symptoms and head off asthma and the flu.
5. Use your asthma medications as directed. If a cold or virus strike despite your best stay-healthy attempts, if your asthma is well managed, you will be better able to weather the illness and prevent it from turning into something more serious. Therefore, be sure to take your control medications regularly and monitor your symptoms. If you notice an increase of fall asthma flare-ups, check with your doctor about changing your asthma control strategy or trying some new medications.
"Asthma: Lifestyle Management: Asthma in the Fall." National Jewish Health. NationalJewish.org, May 2009. Web. 23 July 2011.
"Elements of Allergies and Asthma: Stay Safe, Get a Flu Shot." American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology. AAAAI, n.d. Web. 28 July 2011.
"For Asthmatics, Understanding Disease Can Help Lift Quality of Life." American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology. AAAAI, 21 Sept. 2004. Web, 28 July 2011.
"Wash Your Hands." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. CDC, 6 Dec. 2010. Web, 28 July 2011.
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