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Asthma? Be Ready for Holiday Challenges
As the temperature drops, seasonal allergies—such as hay fever—typically subside. But winter brings with it a whole new set of factors to aggravate your asthma.
This winter, give yourself the gift of easy breathing. Take steps to reduce the effects of these common cold-weather triggers.
• The cold itself. Dry wind, freezing temps and sudden weather shifts can bring on symptoms. Protect your lungs by moving your workouts indoors for the winter. When you do go outside, cover your nose and mouth with a scarf.
• Holiday décor. Feel sneezy while decking the halls? Most Christmas trees themselves don’t trigger an allergic reaction. However, they can harbor fragrances and mold spores that do. Use an artificial tree or let your real tree dry in the garage for a week before decorating. And clean decorations when you pull them out of boxes. Dust and mildew may have built up during storage. Keep the room where the tree is displayed well ventilated.
• Wood-burning fireplaces. Sure, they make the room cozy, but blazing logs release a mixture of harmful gases, smoke and small particles. Any amount of exposure to smoke is dangerous particularly for persons with asthma.
• Stress. The mere thought of your holiday to-do list can send stress-related hormones surging through your body. These chemicals cause your muscles to tense up—including those around your airways. Try deep-breathing exercises to increase your oxygen intake and counteract the stress response. Focus on inhaling, then exhaling, slowly and deeply.
• Pet dander. Visiting relatives can mean sharing close quarters with their furry friends. You can even have an increased reaction to your own pet after you return home from a trip—doctors call it the “Thanksgiving effect.” At home or away, keep animals out of your bedroom, off furniture and vacuum regularly.
• Flu, colds and other infections. You’re no more likely to catch these viruses than people without asthma. But when you do, they can seriously harm your health. Get a flu shot if you haven’t already. To ward off other bugs, wash your hands regularly and avoid touching your nose, eyes or mouth. Carry a small bottle of hand cleansing gel with you to make regular hand cleansing easy.
Talk to your Rite Aid Pharmacist if you have questions about managing your asthma.
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“Asthma Triggers and Management: Tips to Remember.” American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. http://www.aaaai.org/conditions-and-treatments/library/at-a-glance/asthma-triggers-and-management.aspx.
“Asthma Triggers: Gain Control: Pets.” US Environmental Protection Agency. http://www.epa.gov/asthma/pets.html.
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“Winter Time Asthma & Allergy Tips.” Clean Air Council. http://www.cleanair.org/program/environmental_health/asthma_outreach/winter_time_asthma_allergy_tips