Tips to help patients gain better control

Are you tired of your nagging cough or runny nose? Does the thought of spring flowers immediately make you want to sneeze? Are you looking for new ways to eat healthy despite your food allergies?

Make 2020 the year you take control of your allergies and asthma! No more sleepless nights and red, itchy eyes. No more sitting on the sidelines. Step up to better breathing with these New Year’s tips:

1 – Make a wish list: What would you like to be able to do if asthma or allergies didn’t hold you back? Ask yourself if there is anything that you’ve been avoiding because of your allergies or asthma that you usually enjoy doing.

2 – Review your treatment plan: Schedule an appointment with your doctor apart from an emergency or acute care visit. Share your wish list and ask if there are ways to reach your goals. There is no one, perfect way to treat allergies and asthma. Shared decision making is the key to a successful outcome: Work with your doctor to find the plan that works best for you.

  • Talk with your doctor about what is and is not working with your plan. Be honest about lifestyle and economic barriers you face. Are there medication side effects you’re worried about?
  • Take your medications to the appointment and review each one with your healthcare team: Why is it prescribed? When should you take it? How much should you take? How quickly should you expect results? What should you do if you don’t think it’s working?
  • If you use an inhaler, review your inhaler technique with your healthcare team. The medication can’t work if it doesn’t get into the lungs where it belongs.
  • Do you have a written Asthma Action Plan or an Allergy and Anaphylaxis Emergency Plan? If not, ask for one.

3 – Clean your indoor air: Change or clean air filters in your heating and air conditioning system. Vacuum carpets and corners regularly to keep dust and allergens down. Consider dust-mite proof pillow and mattress encasings and an air purifier if you have pets or mold. Keep pets out of the bedroom.

5 – Plan ahead: For seasonal allergies, begin using your allergy medication 3-4 weeks before your symptoms usually appear. The earliest tree allergens are from mountain cedars, which can peak in Texas and the southwest in January; in other parts of the country tree and grass allergens typically arrive in February and March.

6 – Prevent flares: Take care of yourself. Stop smoking and stay away from smokers; go to bed one hour earlier; get plenty of exercise; eat healthy foods; drink plenty of water per day – at least 2 liters if you do not have a medical condition prohibiting this – as staying hydrated keeps mucus from forming and prevents illnesses; get the flu shot and wash your hands regularly to avoid flu and cold viruses; and use nasal washes to keep your sinuses clean and flush out germs before they take hold.

7 – Follow up: Start a daily symptom diary online or in a notebook. Track your medication use, activities and symptoms; review it at your next appointment with your healthcare provider.

8 – Be reliable and proactive: Keep the appointment! See a board-certified allergist if your treatment plan isn’t working. Practice preventive care – healthcare should be a priority even when you are not sick.