Tag Archive for: asthma

Asthma? Allergies? Or Both?

Springtime in the Arizona desert can be surprisingly full of blooms and trees. While it is beautiful, it can also wreak havoc on patients who suffer from seasonal allergies. For those with asthma, it can be a double whammy with uncontrolled allergies triggering their breathing troubles. Nearly 70% of asthmatics report that allergens are a major cause of their asthma symptoms.  Arizona’s allergy season usually occurs in spring and fall, but can start as early as January and last until November. Allergies are a result of your body’s immune system reacting to a foreign substance like pollen, dust, or animal dander. Living in the desert with its lack of rain also keeps the irritants suspended in the air, causing more allergy symptoms.  It is important to identify your asthma triggers, including allergies, to minimize symptoms and keep your asthma under control.

Allergy Symptoms  

Some symptoms of allergies can be confused with a common cold. If these symptoms last more than two weeks, consider seeing your doctor to be evaluated for allergies. Allergy symptoms may include:  

  • Runny nose or persistent nasal congestion  
  • Watery, itchy or red eyes   
  • Sneezing  
  • Scratchy throat  
  • Frequent sniffling  
  • Rash (hives) 

Asthma Symptoms and Triggers

Some patients may experience more of these symptoms during spring or fall if allergies are triggering their asthma. Asthma symptoms may include:

  • Shortness of breath  
  • Frequent coughing with exercise  
  • Chronic nighttime cough  
  • Wheezing  
  • Tightness in chest  

There can be many triggers for asthma around you. These can be seasonal or present all year round. Identifying and controlling these triggers is essential to bringing your asthma under control. Asthma Triggers may include:   

  • Seasonal allergies (pollen, dust mites, roaches, mold, trees, grasses, animals, dust, etc.)  
  • Tobacco smoke (pipe, cigarette, cigar, vape, etc.) 
  • Environmental pollution  
  • Exercise 
  • Seasonal changes  
  • Viral illness (common cold)  

It Runs in the Family

Allergies and asthma tend to run in families.  Children are more likely to be diagnosed with one or both conditions if their parents or siblings have been diagnosed with them in the past. Some children may even outgrow their allergies or asthma as they get older.  


Here are a few things you can do to help when allergies cause worsening of your asthma symptoms. 

  • Avoid outdoor activities when pollen counts are high or many flowers/trees are in bloom.   
  • If you can’t avoid outdoor activities, make sure to shower and change clothes immediately afterwards. Keep these dirty clothes outside of your bedroom.  
  • Keep windows and doors closed to prevent allergens from coming inside.   
  • Change air filters in the home regularly.   
  • If you can, remove carpets from the home or vacuum frequently.   
  • Clean frequently to keep bathrooms free of mold.   
  • Keep pets outside of the bedroom.   
  • Keep stuffed animals off the bed/sleeping surface.   
  • Start allergy medications.  


Make sure allergies are well controlled so they do not trigger your asthma. This may mean using a daily oral allergy medication or daily allergy nose spray.  Some of these medications are available over the counter, like cetirizine or loratadine.  Please avoid regularly using drugs containing diphenhydramine (such as Benadryl) for allergies without speaking with your doctor first. It is also important to avoid anything that can trigger your allergies, especially exposure to secondhand smoke. 

It is important to have your asthma well managed to reduce the frequency and severity of flares when you encounter a trigger. Your physician can help get your asthma under good control with the use of prescription inhalers. If you need the asthma quick-relief medication more than twice a week or two nights a month, then your asthma is NOT under good control.

Talk with your NOAH provider about additional treatment options to further control your allergies and asthma.  They may also recommend seeing an allergist or pulmonologist (lung specialist) for further care.  

Asthma Awareness in Children by Dr. Patricia Avila, Pediatrician

“Asthma in children is one of the most common long term (chronic) diseases. It is estimated to affect 1 in every 10 children in the US. If your child has Asthma one of the most important things you must do is to learn as much as you can about Asthma. Being educated about your child’s Asthma will help you work together with your child’s doctor to control their Asthma and have the absolute best outcome.”

Dr. Patty Avila, Pediatrician

What is Asthma?

  1. It is a disease of the lungs that causes the airways or tubes that bring air into the lungs to become swollen and inflamed. The muscles around the airways become tight and it makes it hard to breathe. This leads to episodes of coughing, wheezing, feeling breathless, chest pain/chest tightness, and feeling more tired than usual.
  2. It is more common in children with a parent or sibling or close relative with Asthma, Allergies, and/or Eczema. Children with Asthma often develop Allergies or Eczema as well. These are sometimes present before they develop Asthma.
  3. There is no cure for Asthma. There are medications and things you as a parent/caregiver can do to help control it. Know what the signs/symptoms of Asthma are, how to avoid triggers, and follow your doctor’s treatment plan. This is especially important to prevent and decrease the damage to your child’s lungs. It will also help avoid your child needing emergency medical treatment.

What causes an Asthma Attack?

  • An Asthma attack happens when your child is exposed to “triggers” things that cause your child’s Asthma to get worse.
  • An Asthma attack also happens when a child does not take their medications as prescribed.

Common triggers include:

  • Allergens – including outdoor allergens like pollen, animal dander, dust mites, mold, and cockroaches.
  • Infections – including the common cold, the flu, sinus infections, and cases of pneumonia.
  • Irritants – including cigarette smoke or other smoke, pollution, strong odors like perfumes or scented candles, and cleaning products.
  • Changes in weather – cold and dry, very humid, or extremely hot weather.
  • Exercise.
  • Stress and strong emotions.

How can you help control your child’s Asthma and how is it treated? Avoid triggers. It may not be possible to completely avoid all possible triggers, but there are some changes you can make that will help.

  • Allergens. Have your child take their allergy medications during allergy season. Keep windows and doors shut during allergy season. Avoid outdoor activities when pollen counts are high.
  • Dust mites. Use mattresses and pillow covers. Vacuum and dust regularly. Wash bedding once a week. Limit and wash stuffed animals.
  • Furry pets. Keep pets out of your child’s bedroom. Wash pets more often.
  • Use HEPA filters.
  • Fix any water leaks that could lead to mold.
  • Infections. Make sure your child and family receive their yearly Flu vaccine. Having Asthma increases your child’s risk for severe Flu illness that can trigger an Asthma attack.
  • Use good hand hygiene.
  • Irritants. Do NOT allow anyone to smoke in your home or car. Avoid public places where smoking is allowed. Avoid the use of perfumes, scented candles, incense, paints, and cleaning supplies that can irritate your child’s lungs. Check your local forecast for air quality and keep your child indoors when the pollution is bad.
  • Weather. Avoid outdoor activities in extreme weather conditions.
  • Exercise. If your child’s Asthma is triggered by exercise have your child take his/her Albuterol 15-30 minutes prior to activity to prevent these symptoms. Encourage your child to exercise and participate in sports. Know what medications help control his/her Asthma so that they can continue to be active.
  • Medications. Includes inhaled medications in the form of MDIs also known as inhalers or “pumps” and nebulizers that are given by a machine. Rescue or quick relief medications like Albuterol help during an Asthma attack. They help open the airways or tubes that bring air to the lungs. Long-term controller medications like inhaled corticosteroids help improve the inflammation of the lungs. When these medications are used daily your child is less likely to have an Asthma attack.

Develop an Asthma Action Plan.

This plan is made with the help of your child’s doctor. It will help you and your child know what medications to use and when. It will also help you and your child know what to do in the case of an emergency. Share this plan with the school as well. It is important because your child spends a good amount of time there and the school will know exactly how to help your child.

By becoming knowledgeable about your child’s Asthma, avoiding triggers, and following a good Asthma Action Plan you are taking important steps in keeping your child healthy. Have your child see his/her doctor at least 2 times per year to ensure their Asthma is under control. Do not forget to make sure your child and family receive a yearly Flu vaccine. Your child should be able to enjoy everyday activities and participate in sports without any problems breathing if their Asthma is under control.

5 facts about asthma

Over 24 million people in the US live with asthma, a chronic lung disease that makes breathing difficult. There is no cure for asthma, but it can be managed and treated so that those with asthma can live an active and healthy life.

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