girl using inhaler

Millions of Americans suffer from asthma and allergies. The annual costs of these disorders--whether from doctor appointments, medications, or time in lost work--shoots into the billions. Unfortunately, there's no cure for either condition, but there are treatment options that will make you more comfortable and will possibly stave off a life-threatening attack.

In the past, asthma sufferers have had to modify their routines to avoid attacks and possible encounters with known triggers. Some have even had to limit their participation in sports because of severe asthma. As research has advanced and medications have become more sophisticated and targeted, asthma sufferers can breathe easier. Now if an attack occurs, a pocket inhaler can save your life and no emergency squad has to be called.

Asthma involves inflammation of the airways, which causes them to narrow and makes breathing difficult. During an asthma attack, you might feel like you're unable to catch your breath, which only causes further anxiety and breathing difficulty. Daily medication, either as a pill or in the form of an inhaler, can lessen the likelihood of an acute asthma attack.

Depending on the severity of the allergy, a person can take daily medication or simply avoid the triggers that bring on symptoms. Even people with an allergy to a domestic animal can sometimes still have that animal in the same house if they take a daily dose of medication. Anaphylaxis is a severe allergic reaction characterized by shortness of breath, itchiness, headaches, and increased heart rate. If it isn't treated immediately, anaphylaxis can be fatal. Common causes of anaphylaxis include contact with peanuts or tree nuts, shellfish, and a bee sting. Those diagnosed with anaphylaxis are usually instructed by their physician to carry an Epi-Pen (a self-injection kit containing epinephrine, used to treat severe allergic reaction) with them at all times.

Controlling Attacks
Lifestyle choices can be key in mitigating allergy and asthma attacks.

Vitamin C is a natural anti-histamine which prevents the body's reaction to triggers. Increasing your intake of citrus fruits may decrease asthma and allergy symptoms. However, smoking weakens the body's immune system and destroys Vitamin C. Even second-hand smoke can affect the severity of allergies and asthma.

Dust mite allergies can be dealt with by frequently washing pillows and linens or placing anti-dust mite covers on pillows and mattresses. Staying inside an air-conditioned environment and using high-quality central air and furnace filters decreases exposure to airborne allergens. Using hepa filters on vacuum cleaners and clean-air machines--especially in bedrooms--can make for a more comfortable breathing environment.

Although allergies and asthma can be annoying--and even life-threatening--disorders at times, there's no need to suffer round the clock. Making small changes to your environment and being vigilant with your diet can support medication therapy and allow you to engage in a full and active life.