Happy New Year, and welcome 2022! The start of a new year arrives for many with guilt-laden resolutions to improve things like personal health goals. Resolutions to improve health can seem overwhelming and cause anxiety if they are unrealistic in the end goal or timeframe. Allergy and asthma sufferers do not have to overhaul an entire health plan to see some solid results. A few simple tweaks could make a big difference in easing sniffling, sneezing, and wheezing.

⦁ Adding Exercise – Is it even a New Year’s resolution if it doesn’t involve adding exercise or physical activity – and it’s an especially good goal for those with asthma! It is a common misconception, and one that can be detrimental to overall health, that those with asthma should not exercise. It is true that when asthmatics exercise in certain places or conditions, such as  in cold weather, it can make asthma symptoms worse, so avoid exercising outside if it’s cold and windy (or hot and humid). Air pollution – both indoor and outdoor – as well as high pollen counts, can also cause symptoms during exercise. Consider sports that typically require shorter bursts of exertion or activity like volleyball, gymnastics, baseball, wrestling, golf, and swimming. Using an inhaler before exercising and as needed during exercise can further help. If asthma limits your ability to exercise, talk to your provider to discuss a possible adjustment to your asthma medication routine, or better control of your allergies through testing and allergen immunotherapy.

⦁ Decrease stress – Numerous studies have shown that stress can cause negative health effects, including increased or worse symptoms for allergy and asthma sufferers. Consider downloading a meditation or relaxation app to use at night before bed. Soothing music can also be beneficial, as can doing activities you enjoy that lift your spirit.

⦁ Stop smoking or ban it from your surroundings – Quitting smoking and making your house a smoke-free environment could easily be the single best resolution to make as an asthma and allergy sufferer. This resolution should be on the top of your list. Direct smoke and secondhand smoke is extremely damaging and harmful to many parts of the body, but particularly the lungs. Studies have shown children with asthma who are exposed to secondhand smoke at home have nearly double the risk of being hospitalized than children with asthma who aren’t exposed. If you or your kids have asthma you should also try to avoid fireplace fires and campfires.

⦁ Protect yourself – It’s important to do all you can to protect yourself against respiratory viruses like influenza, RSV, and COVID-19 because people with asthma and allergies can be at an increased risk for severe illness. For viruses like the flu and COVID-19, get vaccinated, or get a booster shot, wear a mask when appropriate and social distance.

⦁ Watch what you eat – but wait, this has nothing to do with dreaded dieting! –  For those with food allergies, remain diligent in avoiding the foods you are allergic to. This year, double down on making sure those you love, especially teens or college students, are being vigilant. Older kids sometimes believe not mentioning food allergies helps them not stick out among their peers. Encourage them to courageously educate their friends and enlist their help in the battle to stay allergen-free. Help them take control of their food allergies by urging them to be aware of what’s on the menu wherever they eat. Also, resolve to make sure epinephrine auto injectors are current and up to date, and that two sperate doses or injections are always available to be utilized within 60 seconds of need.

⦁ Proactively see your provider – Each year people wait to discuss their allergies and asthma with their provider and be evaluated when pollen season and allergy symptoms are at their worst. Avoid reaching that level of suffering, the allergy season rush, and the inability to be allergy tested due to need for allergy medications by proactively seeing your provider now. Your provider can help you determine what is causing symptoms and show you how to avoid triggers.

 

Amanda Hofmann, MPAS, PA-C, is a graduate of Duquesne University, in Pittsburgh, PA. After spending 8 years in clinical practice, she joined United Allergy Services where she is currently the Vice President of Clinical. Amanda is also the past president of the Association of PAs in Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology. 

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