Allergic Asthma: A Common Condition
by E. Kevin Mar, M.D.
Hello springtime? Hello hay fever! ‘Tis the season for those who suffer from asthma- especially those sufferers of “allergic asthma”. In the US, it is estimated that 20 million people suffer from asthma, with an estimated 50% suffering from so called “allergic asthma”- the most common type. Of this type, 90% of sufferers are children, as compared to only 10% of adults. Allergic asthma is exacerbated after exercising in the cold or inhaling any type of smoke, pollen, dust, fumes or strong smells.
The signs and symptoms of allergic asthma are similar to those ordinarily associated with asthma: coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, rapid breathing and chest tightness. The most common allergens are tree, grass and weed pollen; mold, animal dander and animal saliva. Other allergens are feces of dust mites and cockroaches, cigarette/tobacco smoke, air pollution, cold air; strong chemical odors and scented products (e.g., perfumes, air fresheners, etc.).
If you or your child suffers from allergic asthma, seek the advice of a qualified health professional. Allergy skin testing may determine the cause and may require the prescription of antihistamines, such as Claritin, saline rinses, nasal decongestants, bronchodilators, or steroids.
Here are some common tips which can assist in relieving its symptoms:
1. When the pollen count is high, stay indoors as much as possible with the windows closed. If it is hot, use an air conditioner with a clean filter. Remember to regularly change the filter to avoid moldy buildup! This includes evaporative coolers! They are magnets for mold and mildew.
2. Microscopic dust mites that live in fabric and carpet can exacerbate asthma. Make sure to use an allergen proof cover to wrap pillows, mattress and box spring. Wash bed sheets in hot water once a week, and clean areas where dust accumulates (e.g., on piles of clothing or upholstered furniture).
3. Only buy your children washable, plush toys since they have a general tendency to accumulate dust.
4. Check the humidity in your home. If moisture is a problem, use a dehumidifier or air conditioner. Remember to repair any leaking pipes or roof.
5. If allergic to your pets, keep them outside, or find another home for them. If your pets need to stay inside, prevent them from going into the bedroom by installing an entrance gate. As pet dander can persist for many months, you can bathe your pet every week; but studies indicate that this does not reduce the inhaled dander.
6. Keep your bathroom and kitchen countertops clean and dry to prevent mold/mildew buildup and cockroaches/other insects from colonizing. While cooking, run your exhaust fan to lower room humidity. If insecticides are not effective, hire an exterminator to professionally rid the house of all pests.
7. Use air filters whenever possible to clean the air of smoke, pollen and dust particles. Beware of electronic air filters, as they tend to emit air ozone, which may induce airway inflammation in one’s respiratory system.
8. While gardening and raking, wear a HEPA certified mask to reduce pollen and mold spores entering your lungs.
9. There are many over-the-counter medications that can relieve the symptoms of allergic asthma. They range from antihistamines, decongestants, combinations of antihistamine/decongestants and anti-inflammatory preparations. These medications have side effects such as drowsiness, headache, nervousness, fast heartbeat, rapid pulse, and tremors, which can be fatal if taken inappropriately. So, be cautious to read the label before taking each medication and/or consult with a qualified health professional.
10. Here are some alternative treatments available for allergic asthma:
a) Acupuncture: There are points of the body that support the immune system and may relieve signs and symptoms of allergic asthma such as wheezing, coughing, shortness of breath and airway inflammation.
b) Nutritional and herbal supplements:
1. Pine bark extract, known as pycnogenol, is a powerful antioxidant to help protect the body from free radical damage, which causes inflammation, leading to spasms.
2. Choline is an essential nutrient found in small qualities in the body. Good sources of choline are eggs, milk, liver and lecithin supplements.
3. Beta carotene is known to reduce symptoms induced by exercise in children. It is found in whole grains, vegetables and fruits.
4. Bosweila serrata has been used in Ayurvedic Medicine to treat asthma, arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease.
5. Curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, has anti-inflammatory properties, which improve the body’s immune system and decrease the symptoms.
6. Omega -3- Fatty acids may help reduce inflammatory chemicals in the body, diminishing the severity of symptoms. Good sources of Omega 3- Fatty Acids are salmon, mackerel, anchovies, herring, sardines, flaxseed and walnut oil.
Inclusive of all medications, herbal and nutritional supplements do have side effects when consumed indiscriminately. Consult with a qualified health professional if unfamiliar.
There are many nutrients, herbal supplements and other alternative therapies that are not mentioned in this article to relieve the symptoms of allergic asthma. Take responsibility to investigate what works for you.
Have a Safe and Happy Spring!
E. Kevin Mar M.D. (and American Board Certified Senior Disability Analyst) appears courtesy of Pinetop-Lakeside Integrative & Physical Medicine LLC where he specializes in Pain Management, Acupuncture, Musculoskeletal Injury & Sports Medicine. He has offices at 1628 Reed Lane (& Woodland Rd.) in Lakeside and 9630 E. Shea Blvd in Scottsdale. He can be reached at 928-358-1648 or email@example.com.
(This article is intended for informational purposes only. The author’s information is intended to be accurate; however inaccuracies may occur. It is advised that the reader consult a knowledgeable health professional before beginning any herbal regimen- especially if one is taking western medication. In rare cases, herb-western medication interactions can be harmful.)
Note: Medicare and other Insurance are accepted! Please call to confirm. Sorry, AHCCCS are not accepting new providers. Therefore, we cannot accept AHCCCS.