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Seasons change, so do asthma triggers

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Posted: Tuesday, February 18, 2014 4:00 pm | Updated: 1:32 am, Wed Feb 26, 2014.

(BPT) - Across the country, 25 million Americans are living with asthma. As the winter months come to an end and the spring makes its arrival, the change in seasons can be problematic for adults and children with asthma. It’s important for asthma patients to understand the triggers of each season to prepare for symptoms as the temperature changes.

Asthma patients know the symptoms: coughing, wheezing, trouble breathing and tightness in the chest. The cause of these symptoms is inflammation, or swelling, of the large and small airways in the lungs. During an attack, the airways become narrower and tightened, making it hard to breathe and reducing the flow of oxygen to other parts of the body.

During colder months, it’s important to know that seasonal asthma triggers exist both indoors and outdoors. Outdoor activities paired with cold temperatures can put adults and children with asthma at greater risk for asthma attacks. Staying inside can also be problematic because unexpected triggers like indoor dust, animal dander, mold and even wood-burning fireplaces can cause an asthmatic to experience uncomfortable or dangerous symptoms.

In addition to environmental triggers, cold and flu viruses can be a serious problem for people with asthma. Asthmatics are not more likely to contract the flu virus, but because they may have swollen and sensitive airways in the lungs already, contracting the flu may cause further inflammation and trigger symptoms.

With spring on its way bringing warmer temperatures, asthmatics have new triggers to pay attention to. Allergens from flowers and trees and the change in temperature can trigger an attack in people with asthma.

“Asthma is a condition that requires attention year-round. Patients should be aware of their seasonal triggers,” says Dr. Nemr Eid, a pediatric pulmonologist from Louisville, Kentucky. “It’s important that I maintain communication with my patients and keep them on-track with their asthma management plans from season to season.”

Being smart about asthma management includes working with your health care professional (HCP) to create an asthma action plan that can be adapted to the season. This potentially life-saving tool includes notes for what to look for during an attack, emergency contact information and proper treatment methods. To download an asthma action plan, visit www.GetSmartAboutAsthma.com. The Get Smart About Asthma website serves as an educational center for patients and caregivers to find important asthma-related information such as types, triggers and treatment plans.

Asthma symptoms and severity varies from person to person. While some require treatment with a rescue inhaler for the quick onset of symptoms, others use a controller medication for daily asthma management, which can help prevent symptoms and reduce the use of a rescue inhaler. Knowing and implementing the method for treating asthma symptoms is something every person with asthma should be familiar with. Patients should work closely with their HCPs to identify a treatment plan that works for them. Before seeing a doctor, visiting www.GetSmartAboutAsthma.com can help inform and prepare patients for their asthma treatment discussion.

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