Each year, the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America declares May as “National Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month.” Asthma affects approximately 26 million Americans, and more than 50 million suffer from all types of allergies (AAFA). Use this month to educate and equip yourself and your family with the tools and resources needed to maintain healthy surroundings.

The peak season of respiratory problems occurs when warmer spring weather begins to affect the growth of plants. Pollen from the new flowers and trees starts to circulate in the air and bombard allergy sufferers with congestion, itchy eyes, coughing, sneezing, irritated throat, or a mixture of all these symptoms.

Though many suffer from allergies with the change of seasons, a handful of people also struggle with asthma that’s either hereditary or caused by environmental factors. Asthma symptoms include wheezing, coughing and chest tightness – sometimes causing asthma attacks – but can be controlled with the right treatment.

Since these respiratory problems are initially caused by pollen and dust in the air, there are some preventative measures you can take to keep your home pollen-free:

  • Remove carpeting: In areas with minimal movement, carpet can collect days to weeks of dust mites affecting your allergies.
  • Don’t sleep with pets: It’s hard to turn down a cuddle, but your pet’s fur is full of dander, which can cause reactions even in people who aren’t allergic.
  • Air conditioning: As long as your filter is clean, keeping a constant stream of air running through your home prevents pollen from entering the house and settling on surfaces.
  • Exercise later: Yes, those new tree buds and flower petals are lovely, but they’re the main cause of seasonal allergies. Switch your morning jog to the evening to avoid prime time for the highest pollen counts.
  • Deep Clean: In case you haven’t been motivated to spring clean, here’s a good reason o start. Performing a deep wash of your clothes, living surfaces and child’s toys could remove dust mites that have remained stagnant all winter long.

If you suffer from allergies, there are many treatment options such as immunotherapy shots or sublingual immunotherapy (building a tolerance to an allergic substance). The most common treatment is allergy medications, like decongestants and antihistamines, which help reduce allergy symptoms. If you suffer from asthma or asthmatic symptoms caused by your allergies, quick-relief medicines such as inhalers or antiholinergics can stop asthma symptoms in their tracks. However, to truly control airway inflammation, long-term medicines can be taken daily to avoid dangerous asthma attacks.

As spring weather reminds us it’s here to stay, make sure to take the month of May to learn how to protect yourself and your family from possible allergens.

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