Five Things You Don't Know About Springtime Asthma

Posted by administrator Tuesday, May 10, 2011

With spring comes birds, bees and for some, a wheeze.

More than 24 million Americans have been diagnosed with asthma, but millions more may be at risk for the condition and not know it.

Allergists who are members of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) want people to be aware of these five little-known facts about asthma:

1. Sometimes the signs are subtle: Do you cough at night? Get winded while walking up stairs? These can be symptoms of asthma. "The lungs of a person who has asthma are inflamed all the time," said allergist Dr. John Winder, chair of the ACAAI Nationwide Asthma Screening Program. "When a trigger makes the inflammation worse, that's what people think of as an asthma 'attack.' But symptoms are not always like that. You can have asthma and not even know it."

2. Stormy weather can spark trouble: Studies show an increase in asthma-related emergency room visits after a thunderstorm. No one knows the exact reason, but the rupture of pollen grains due to the storm and the wind spreading these grains are thought to be culprits. Allergists advise those with asthma stay inside after a storm.

3. Pollen can be powerful: Many of those with asthma find their symptoms are triggered by allergies. Tree pollen is a common spring allergen, and various parts of the country have seen record-setting levels this year. "It's a good idea to find out if allergies might be triggering your asthma," said Dr. Winder. "Allergy testing can help pinpoint the cause and the right treatment which can include things you can do to avoid pollen."

4. Exercise woes: If you have trouble breathing during or after exercise, you might have Exercise-Induced Bronchoconstriction (EIB). Ten percent of Americans have EIB even though they don't have asthma. Allergists can prescribe inhalers to use before and during exercise. They also recommend sports like swimming, walking, baseball and short track and field events which are likely to cause fewer problems for people with EIB.

5. No age limits: Although it's more common in children, asthma can strike at any age. "The bottom line is that if you are having any trouble breathing, get it checked out," said Dr. Winder. "Testing for asthma is quick and painless."

Source: American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI)

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