By Taja Hereford

Did you know approximately 60 million Americans have asthma and allergies? The familiarity of coughing, itchy and watery eyes, runny nose, tightness in the chest are all too present for many people, both adults and children alike. May is National Allergy and Asthma Awareness Month, and many people have questions about allergies and asthma.

• Are allergies and asthma only developed in childhood, or can you develop them as an adult?

Studies have shown that the onset of asthma can occur at any age. Adults who are 50, 60, or even older have developed asthma. You can also develop allergies as an adult. However, you may notice that the effects of allergies lessen as you get older. As we age, the immune function decreases, which also reduces the immune response to allergens.

• How do doctors diagnose allergies and asthma?

Doctors use a variety of steps to diagnose allergies. They will ask you about your personal and medical history, conduct a physical examination, and run tests to identify specific allergens. Doctors use similar methods to diagnose asthma. They will ask you about your personal and medical history and conduct a physical examination. Additionally, you will receive a lung examination to confirm and diagnose asthma.

• What are simple things to do in the home to reduce asthma and allergy triggers?

To reduce asthma and allergy triggers at home, try washing your bedding regularly, fix leaks, store garbage outside, and vacuum and dust regularly. If you have an allergy to dust mites, try to use allergen-proof pillows and mattress covers.

• When should I seek medical attention?

If you have any of the following symptoms: intense shortness of breath; difficulty speaking; very rapid breathing; coughing; fainting; bluish color in the face, lips or nails; gasping or wheezing, please seek emergency medical attention. Additionally, if you have been prescribed medicine that is not working, you should seek emergency medical attention.

• What are the effects of COVID-19 if I have allergies or asthma?

Chronic lung conditions, such as asthma, can make you more likely to get severely ill if you contract COVID-19. It is unknown if you are more likely to have severe symptoms of COVID-19 if you have seasonal allergies.

Allergies and asthma are a normal part of life for many people. It is important to stay on top of any worsening or onset of symptoms. If you have specific questions regarding allergies or asthma, ask your medical doctor.

Taja Hereford is a Health Educator for the Rock County Public Health Department. If you would like to ask a health-related question to be answered in a future column, email RCHealthDept@co.rock.wi.us with Healthful Hint in the subject. The Rock County Public Health Department reserves the right not to answer any questions deemed unsuitable. For more information follow us on social media @rockcountyPHD.

Data Resources:

Allergic Asthma Attack: When do you need to go to the hospital? Healthline, Web.

Can you Develop Allergies Later in Life, Healthline, Web. https://www.healthline.com/health/allergies/can-you-develop-allergies#can-allergies-go-away. Accessed 16 Apr 2021.

Educational Resources and Programs Overview, Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, Web. https://www.aafa.org/asthma-allergy-education-programs/. Accessed 16 Apr 2021.

Frequently Asked Questions, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Web. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/faq.html?CDC_AA_refVal=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.cdc.gov%2Fcoronavirus%2F2019-ncov%2Fneed-extra-precautions%2Fpeople-with-seasonal-allergies-faqs.html#People-with-Seasonal-Allergies. Accessed 27 Apr 2021.

People with Certain Medical Conditions, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Web. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/need-extra-precautions/people-with-medical-conditions.html Accessed 12 Apr 2021.

Reduce Asthma Triggers, American Lung Association, Web. https://www.lung.org

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