Dr. Dylan talks spring allergies and asthma

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With the return of Spring, comes the return of seasonal allergies and asthma. Dr. Dylan continues a conversation on Fall allergies.

What if you’ve been doing that and you’re still having symptoms?

Dr. Dylan: It’s probably time to talk to an Allergist, or a specialty physician or one of their NPs or PAs whose expertise is in the Immune System. They can help diagnose exactly what is causing your allergies using small shots that contain a trace amount of common allergens and are placed just under your skin. If you develop a welt on an area that was injected into, they know you have an allergy to the substance that was injected there. You can then talk with the Allergist team to see if knowing the allergen is enough

What if we’re dealing with asthma?

Let’s also talk about something I’d describe as “allergy adjacent” – Asthma. Asthma is very common in the US- 7.5% of American children have the diagnosis. For those who don’t know, asthma is characterized by episodes of the smaller portions of the windpipe becoming inflamed and muscles around them squeezing down, making it more challenging to breathe. These are called asthma exacerbations, or asthma attacks. For most people with asthma, the same type of immune cells that trigger allergies also trigger asthma. We often see seasonal variation of asthma attacks: they increase in frequency in the Spring and Fall when allergen levels increase. They can also be triggered by upper respiratory infections and exercise.

What should you do if ourselves or a loved one suffer from asthma?

If you or a loved one has, or is concerned you have asthma, it is important that you work with your primary care team to develop a care plan. Because asthma has a wide variety of severities and triggers, management can be as simple as an “as needed” inhaler or as complicated as multiple inhalers and medications depending on the severity of their disease. It can seem scary, but almost everyone can live a long, full, and healthy life if it is properly managed.  If you have trouble getting in with a primary care doctor, you can call (218)249-4000 for us at St. Luke’s as we have good availability in our clinics.

If you see someone having an asthma attack, try to help get their inhaler. It contains medication that will help relax their airway to let them breathe. If their inhaler doesn’t work, they should be brought to an ER – as well as if they are having so much trouble breathing they can only get a few words out at a time. Remember as well that the most important part of any emergency is to remain calm.