How To Breathe Easier With Your Allergies And Copd
Feb 28, 2018 6:44:52 AM / byDuke Reeves
Allergy season is a nuisance for anyone who suffers from allergies, but it can be a serious struggle for people who also suffer from COPD. Common allergens like pollen, dust, and mold can not only cause uncomfortable allergic reactions, but they can also irritate your lungs and airways and make it more difficult to breathe.
At least one in five people in the US suffer from allergies, and that includes many people who also have COPD. Unfortunately, there hasn’t been a lot of research on how the two conditions interact, and there are few official treatment guidelines to help COPD patients manage their allergies.
However, thanks to research from John Hopkins University, we do know that people who suffer from both allergies and COPD are more likely to have worsened symptoms and shortness of breath. They are also more likely to experience exacerbations, which are episodes of increased symptoms that can be serious and even require hospitalization.
Currently, the best known way handle allergies when you have COPD is to treat the symptoms with medication. The best treatment, however, is prevention to keep you from having allergic reactions at all.
Can These Medical Conditions Be Treated
In one way or another, all three medical conditions described here can be treated and/or managed.
It is important that you dont start treating yourself before you know for sure what your diagnosis is, because you do not want to end up harming yourself even more.
When learning to cope with any of these conditions, bear in mind that your life style may have to suffer drastic changes and that you will have to start with your diet.
If you are allergic to wheat, then you will have to eliminate it completely from your life, and it will have to be the same in the case of the Celiac Disease or in the case of the gluten intolerance.
However, if you are just allergic to wheat, you will be able to eat certain grains that contain gluten .
Furthermore, do bear in mind that although there is no actual medicine to be prescribed for the gluten intolerance , you may be prescribed with antihistamines if you are diagnosed with wheat allergy.
The Triggers Are In Your Environment
While many different substances can trigger allergic asthma, they all have one thing in common: Theyre in the environment, not in your food or your medication.
Pet dander, dust mites, cockroaches, mold and pollen can all trigger allergic asthma, says Dr. Purcell.
If pollen or mold trigger the condition, it may occur only seasonally. If your pets or the dust mites on your bedding trigger it, you may suffer year-round, he notes.
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Inflammation Of The Airways
When the body detects an allergen, it tries to reject it by producing antibodies and chemicals, such as histamine. Histamine causes the airways to become inflamed and constricted, and it also causes the body to produce mucus to help expel the allergen.
As a result, the airways become narrower. When a person breathes through narrowed airways, the air is forced through a smaller-than-usual space, and a whistling sound can result. This sound is wheezing.
Some causes of wheezing result in short-lived symptoms. Others can cause symptoms that are more serious or longer lasting.
Get An Allergy Tracking App For Your Phone
Checking multiple weather and allergy forecasts every day can be bothersome and easy to forget. Luckily, there are a number of great android and iPhone apps you can get that let you track allergy forecasts right on your phone.
Pollen.com has a popular app for both iPhone and android called Allergy Alert that tells you everything you need to know about pollen levels in your area. You can input multiple locations and get accurate 5-day allergy forecasts with detailed information about the types of pollen that are prevalent.
The Allergy Alert app also includes an allergy diary where you can record your daily symptoms and keep track of how your allergies change throughout the season. You can even print out your diary as a chart or calendar to help you and your doctor keep tabs on your symptoms.
Other great allergy apps include WebMD Allergy, Zyrtec AllergyCast, and Allergy Advisor. You can download all of these apps from the Apple or Google app stores.
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What Are The Causes Of Allergic Asthma
An allergic reaction occurs when your immune system overreacts to the presence of a harmless substance called an allergen. Allergic asthma is when you develop breathing difficulties from inhaling allergens. It occurs when the airways swell as part of an allergic reaction.
Common allergens that can cause allergic asthma include:
- cockroach droppings
You may notice that your allergy symptoms get worse during certain seasons due to increased pollen from trees, grasses, and weeds.
However, allergic asthma symptoms can occur year-round. This may be due to mold spores, which can grow indoors or outdoors on damp surfaces. Indoor dust mites feed on human skin cells and live in pillows, carpets, and other fabrics. And feces, saliva, dander, and other substances released by cockroaches, rodents, and pets can cause an allergic reaction in some people.
You might be surprised to learn that certain foods can cause an asthmatic reaction in a small number of people. Common food triggers include milk, shellfish, eggs, soy products, peanuts, gluten, tree nuts, and sesame seeds. Histamines and sulphites in alcohol products like beer and wine can also trigger asthma symptoms in some people.
Irritants such as air pollution, aerosol cleaning products, tobacco smoke, wood fires, and strong odors dont cause an allergic reaction. But they may inflame your airways and make asthma symptoms worse.
Symptoms of an asthma attack include:
Get A Hepa Vacuum Cleaner
A regular old vacuum can get a lot of the pollen, dust, and other allergens out of your carpet and furniture, but it can only do so much. Sometimes vacuuming can even scatter these particles into the air and actually make your allergies worse.
In order to allergy-proof your home more effectively, you can get a vacuum with a HEPA filter that removes at least 99.97 percent of particles that are 0.3 microns or larger. A regular vacuum can only filter particles that are 50 microns or larger.
Just make sure you get a HEPA filter-compatible vacuum that’s large enough to fit the size of your home. Otherwise, you’ll end up having to change the filter quite often in order to keep it working properly.
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How Is Anaphylaxis Treated
Someone with anaphylaxis needs help right away. The reaction can get worse very quickly. So doctors usually want people with allergies to carry injectable medicine called epinephrine. Epinephrine enters the bloodstream and works quickly against serious allergy symptoms.
Doctors prescribe auto injectors. These should always be with the person with allergies, including at school, sports, jobs, and other activities. The auto injector is small and easy to use.
If you’re prescribed epinephrine auto injectors, the doctor will show you how to use them. Always have two auto injectors with you in case one doesn’t work or you need a second dose.
Your doctor also might instruct you to take antihistamines in some cases. But always treat a serious reaction with epinephrine. Never use antihistamines instead of epinephrine in serious reactions.
Promptly Clean Damp Spots
Water mishaps are not uncommon occurrences in homes. You can never predict when a faucet will burst or a heavy storm will flood your basement.
What you can do, however, is make sure to clean up any spills, floods, or other damp spots as quickly as possible after they happen. If any area remains damp for more than 48 hours, you’re almost certain to get mold growth.
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Control The Humidity In Your Home
When the humidity in your house climbs higher than sixty percent, the chance for mold growth greatly increases. That’s why you should try to keep your home’s humidity levels between thirty and fifty percent.
You can do this by using a dehumidifier when the weather is especially humid outside. You can get small, portable dehumidifiers that work for a single room, or you can invest in whole-house units that pull moisture out of all the air in your home.
Running the air conditioner in the summer is another effective way to reduce moisture in the air, as long as the humidity isn’t too high. It also helps to vent appliances like dishwashers and dryers outdoors, and to make sure you always open your window or turn on your vent fan when you take a shower.
When To See A Doctor
A person should seek immediate medical attention if they experience difficulty breathing that causes them to feel faint or occurs alongside other symptoms of a heart attack.
Otherwise, a person with unexplained shortness of breath or other breathing problems should speak to their doctor to determine what is causing the issue.
There are many potential ways to prevent the development of breathing difficulties. Some steps to consider include:
- taking smaller bites of food and avoiding placing loose objects in the mouth
- avoiding smoking and breathing in secondhand smoke
- taking allergy medications and avoiding known allergens
- eating healthful meals and exercising regularly
- eating smaller meals
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Can Allergy Tests Determine The Cause Of Breathing Problems
Allergy tests may help your doctor find the cause of your breathing problems. One example is the prick technique. Your doctor puts a tiny drop of an allergen on your skin and pokes a needle into the drop. If youre allergic to that allergen, your body will react by turning red at the site. You may also have itching and swelling.
Another type of skin test involves your doctor injecting the allergen extract directly under your skin. Other tests include:
- Allergy blood tests
- A challenge test, in which your doctor gives you tiny amounts of the suspected allergen through your nose or mouth
These are less common than skin testing.
What Causes Breathing Problems
Some people have trouble breathing when they get a cold. For others, its caused by infections like sinusitis. Sinusitis can make it hard to breathe through your nose for a week or two, until the inflammation eases and your congested sinuses begin to drain.
Many breathing problems are long-term . These include chronic sinusitis, allergies, and asthma. They can cause symptoms such as nasal congestion, a runny nose, itchy or watery eyes, chest congestion, coughing, wheezing, trouble breathing, and shallow breathing.
Your nasal passage is a pathway for viruses and allergens to enter your lungs. So your nose and sinuses are often linked with many lung disorders. Sinus or nasal passage inflammation may trigger asthma attacks. And the No. 1 trigger for asthma is allergies.
More than 50 million Americans have allergies. And 17 million American adults have asthma. The two often happen together. Without treatment, they can make life miserable.
Smoking causes breathing problems because it damages the tubes, or airways, that carry air to your lungs. It also damages the tiny air sacs, or alveoli, in your lungs that move oxygen into your blood and remove carbon dioxide . Even secondhand smoke can lead to breathing problems.
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The Facts You Should Know About Breathing Allergies
When your body reacts to some specific elements in the air, then you can face respiratory allergies. You can face breathing-related allergies because of pollen, dust mites, mold and pet dander.
You may notice that sometimes you face an allergy problem in a specific season. It is called seasonal allergy. When you suffer from allergy only in the presence of a specific element like when you play with pets. This is called situational allergy. Everybody does not react in the same way to a specific element. Therefore, you should not depend on others’ reactions to analyze your allergy reaction.
What Causes Hypersensitivity Pneumonitis
There are more than 300 known allergens that, when inhaled as a fine dust, can cause hypersensitivity pneumonitis. Some breathing problems have names based on where the allergen comes from:
- Farmers lung. Seen in farmers and cattle workers, this condition is caused by inhaling mold that grows on hay, straw, and grain.
- Bird fanciers lung. Also called pigeon breeders disease, this condition is caused by inhaling dust specks from feathers or droppings of many types of birds.
- Humidifier lung. This condition can develop by inhaling a fungus that grows in humidifiers, air conditioners, and heating systems, especially if they are not cleaned regularly.
- Hot tub lung. This condition may develop by inhaling germs found in the water mist coming from indoor hot tubs.
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Take Daily Allergy Medication
No matter how hard you try, you’re not going to be able to avoid all of your allergy triggers all the time. Your symptoms are bound to act up at least occasionally, and doctors often recommend taking daily allergy medicine all throughout the allergy season to prevent symptoms before they get worse.
If you suffer from allergies and COPD, it’s essential to talk to your doctor and get an allergy medication that works for you. If you don’t treat your symptoms daily, they can continue to get worse and cause your COPD to flare up.
Many people have to try a few different allergy medications before they find one that effectively treats their symptoms. Make sure to take your medicine as directed and work with your doctor to find a medicine that’s effective for you.
Also, remember than many kinds of allergy medications work best when you take them consistently at the same time every day. They are often less effective if you take them irregularly or skip a dose, which can worsen your symptoms and make your allergies more difficult to control.
What Nasal And Sinus Problems May Lead To Breathing Difficulty
Breathing difficulty can be caused by numerous factors, including sinus and nasal conditions that lead to restricted, congested or inflamed nasal passages.
Sinus and nasal problems that cause breathing issues may include:
- Chronic sinusitis, which can cause nasal congestion and post-nasal drip
- Deviated septum
- Enlarged nasal turbinates
- Allergic rhinitis
Simply put, any sinus or nasal problem that leads to potential nasal obstruction, either due to a physical, structural issue or due to an inflammatory sinus condition can be the source of breathing difficulty.
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Dust And Vacuum Regularly
A good air filter or purifier will remove most allergens from the air in your house, but it can’t do anything about the dust, pollen, and mold spores that settle on the surfaces in your home. To get rid of all that, you have to dust, vacuum, and sweep regularly.
Don’t forget to clean out-of-the-way spaces like high cabinets, closets, corners, rugs and drapes. These are common places where dust and mold tend to collect that people commonly overlook when cleaning.
Do You Need Any Special Tests If You’re Pregnant And Have Asthma
If your asthma is under control and mild, you may not need any special tests. If your asthma is not well controlled or if your asthma is moderate to severe, your provider may recommend repeated ultrasounds to check to make sure your babys growing normally. Ultrasound uses sound waves and a computer screen to show a picture of your baby inside the womb. Your provider may start these at around 32 weeks of pregnancy.
Your provider also may recommend taking your babys heart rate with a fetal heart monitor. This allows him to check on your babys well-being.
Test results can alert your provider if you or your baby needs special care.
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How Allergies Can Cause Shortness Of Breath
Can allergies cause shortness of breath? The answer is âyesâ: an environmental allergy can affect your airway in two distinct ways, potentially resulting in shortness of breath.
Allergic rhinitis, also known as hay fever, affects your nose and sinuses. It can lead to sneezing, congestion, an itchy nose, and itchy eyes. If youâre especially congested, you may find it difficult to breathe through the nose.
Allergic asthma primarily affects the lungs, and can develop among people who have been diagnosed with asthma. It can cause coughing, wheezing, tightness in the chest, and shortness of breath or rapid breathing. In the case of allergic asthma, these symptoms can develop simultaneously.
What Causes Asthma Symptoms
One or more things can trigger your asthma. Some of the most common things that bring on asthma symptoms are:
AllergensAbout 7 out of 10 people with asthma have allergies. An allergy is a reaction to something you touch, eat or breathe in that makes you sneeze, get a rash or have trouble breathing.
Allergens are things that cause you to have allergy symptoms. Many also cause asthma symptoms. Common allergens are pollens, molds, animal dander , dust mites and cockroaches. Limit your contact with allergens. If you still have asthma symptoms, talk to your health care provider.Your provider may recommend that you take an allergy medicine. If youre already getting allergy shots, you can keep taking them during pregnancy. But if you arent getting allergy shots, dont start taking them when youre pregnant because you could have a serious allergic reaction called anaphylaxis.
IrritantsIrritants are things in your environment that may hurt your lungs and trigger asthma symptoms, including air pollution, cigarette smoke and smoke from wood-burning stoves or fireplaces, cold air and strong smells, like paint or perfumes.
InfectionsInfections like a cold, the flu or viral pneumonia, can trigger asthma symptoms in some people.
ExerciseExercise can cause asthma symptoms in some people. If your asthma is under control, you probably can exercise without any problems. But if exercising during pregnancy sets off your asthma, talk to your health care provider.
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