New Year's resolutions for allergy, asthma sufferers

Dr. Lee Clore

The end of the year can arrive with guilt-laden reminders to make resolutions to improve your health.

If you suffer from allergies or asthma, you don't have to overhaul your entire health plan to see some solid results. A few simple tweaks could make a big difference in easing your sneezing and wheezing.

You don't need to change everything you do to have better health but if you're conscientious about making some changes to your routine, you may find that you're breathing better and experiencing fewer allergy and asthma symptoms. And that's a great way to start the new year.

The following are four New Year's resolutions that those who suffer from allergies or asthma may want to consider.

• Yes, add exercise to the list -- Every New Year's resolution list starts with exercise -- and it's an especially good goal for those with asthma. Exercising in cold weather can make asthma symptoms worse, so avoid exercising outside if it's cold and windy. Air pollution -- both indoor and outdoor -- as well as high pollen counts and colds, can also cause symptoms during exercise. Consider sports that require only short bursts of activity like volleyball, gymnastics, baseball, wrestling, golf and swimming. Use your inhaler before exercising and as needed during exercise. If asthma limits your ability to exercise, see your allergist to discuss a possible adjustment to your asthma medication routine.

• Ease your stress to relieve symptoms -- Studies have shown stress can cause negative health effects, including more symptoms for allergy and asthma sufferers. It makes sense that your symptoms might be improved by trying calming therapies. Consider downloading a meditation or relaxation app to use at night before bed. Soothing music can be beneficial, as can doing activities you enjoy that lift your spirit.

• Ban smoke -- Anyone with asthma knows that smoke can cause harm to their lungs, so giving up smoking for the new year makes all the sense in the world. Those who have children with asthma should also know secondhand smoke is equally hazardous to a child's health. Studies have shown children with asthma who are exposed to secondhand smoke at home have nearly double the risk of being hospitalized than children with asthma who aren't exposed. If you or your kids have asthma you should also steer clear of fireplace fires and campfires.

• Watch what you and your kids eat -- For those with food allergies, watching what you eat means staying away from the foods you are allergic to. This year, double down on making sure your teens or college students are being vigilant. Older kids sometimes believe not mentioning food allergies helps them not stick out among their peers. Encourage them to educate their friends and enlist their help in the battle to stay allergen-free. Help them take control of their food allergies by urging them to be aware of what's on the menu wherever they eat.

• See an allergist -- Each year more people are diagnosed with seasonal allergies, and the pollen season gets worse. And more people are being diagnosed with food allergies. The beginning of the year is a perfect time to see an allergist and learn about your options. An allergist is specially trained to help you determine what is causing symptoms and show you how to avoid triggers. This year, let an allergist help you lead the life you want.

For more information about treatment of allergies and asthma, or to schedule an appointment, visit our website at www.owensboroallergy.com.

Dr. Lee Clore specializes in adult and pediatric allergy, asthma and immunology with Allergy and Asthma Specialists, PSC.

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