What is Seasonal Asthma?
Seasonal Asthma (SAS) is a type of allergy that occurs during certain seasons. These include: Summer, Winter, Spring, Fall and Autumn. SAS causes symptoms such as sneezing or itchy eyes during the winter months when there are high levels of pollen in the air. However, these symptoms usually subside after the spring thaw and summer heat returns.
The exact cause of SAS is not known, but some experts believe that it may be due to changes in the immune system which occur during different seasons. Some studies have shown that children with SAS are more likely to develop other allergies later on.
This means they will probably need treatment for their allergies too.
How common is Seasonal Asthma?
There is no definite figure on how many people suffer from Seasonal Asthma, however, it’s estimated that around 1% of the population suffers from it. There are several theories as to why some people get SAS while others don’t. One theory suggests that the body produces less of certain types of white blood cells when exposed to high levels of allergens in the air during winter months.
What are the symptoms of Seasonal Asthma?
The most common symptom is the coughing which usually occurs during the day. The cough is caused by spasms in the airways when high levels of allergens are inhaled such as dust, mold, or pet dander. The spasms cause the airway to close causing a temporary lack of oxygen which makes you cough until the airway opens up again.
Some other common symptoms of SAS include:
Itchy nose or eyes
Chronic sore throat
How is Seasonal Asthma Diagnosed?
If your doctor thinks you have symptoms of SAS, they may refer you to an allergist. An allergist is a type of doctor that has special training in diagnosing and treating allergies. The allergist will examine you for any signs of allergic reactions and perform a scratch test to see if you are allergic to anything.
Through this process, the allergist will try to identify what you’re allergic to and prescribe medicine accordingly. If the symptoms don’t improve with treatment, your doctor may refer you to a lung specialist for further testing.
What are the treatments for Seasonal Asthma?
The goal of treatment is to provide relief from your symptoms to make your life easier. During the fall and winter months, you might be prescribed an asthma controller medication that can help to relax your airways. These types of medicines should always be taken exactly as your doctor prescribes them during the times of year when your symptoms occur.
During the spring and summer months, your doctor may suggest that you take anti-inflammatory medicine or suppressants to control your symptoms. However, if your symptoms are severe enough, he may also suggest that you take a short course (up to 3 months) of an inhaled steroid as well.
How can I prevent the symptoms of Seasonal Asthma?
While it’s pretty much impossible to get rid of your allergens, there are some things that you can do to help minimize your symptoms. One easy thing that you can do is to limit the amount of time that you spend outside during high allergen days. If you know there will be high levels of mold or pollen in the air, try to cut back on your time spent outside or wear a face mask while you’re in those environments.
It’s also important to understand that symptoms can be triggered by non-allergen factors as well such as changes in temperature, exercise, and even emotions. If possible, try to keep your regular daily routine the same during the high allergen days.
If you know that walking your dog early in the morning causes you to have an asthma attack, it might be a good idea to put off the walk until later in the day.
Another thing that may help is to change your environment as a whole by staying inside more often. Close windows and blinds, use air filters, and change the air in your house often to help prevent exposure to allergens.
You can also make sure your home is mold-free and get your heating and cooling systems checked frequently for any signs of leaks or other factors that may be exposing you to mold.
Make sure to talk with your doctor before changing your routine or environment. He or she will be able to let you know what will be the best course of action for you.