Driftless Health: Keeping allergy and asthma symptoms under control in the new year

Instead of New Year’s resolutions, why not assign yourself a few tasks to keep allergy and asthma symptoms under control in 2024?

“The best way to tackle health challenges is in small bits, and that goes for allergy and asthma control,” said Gundersen Health System allergist Dr. Samantha Knox. “The last few years have been hard on everyone, but you still want to figure out ways to improve your health routine. Making small, manageable adjustments is a great start to getting on a healthier path toward improvements in controlling allergy and asthma.”

According to Dr. Knox, here are five “free” resolutions for those suffering from allergies or asthma.

Go smoke free 

If you or your kids suffer from asthma, you need to rid your house and your life of cigarette smoke. Secondhand smoke is particularly harmful to kids’ lungs, and 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.

Go COVID-19 free

With the virus still circulating in communities across the U.S., including variants, experts expect a substantial number of cases this winter. There are precautions you can take, including vaccination, boosters, masking and social distancing, to avoid you or your family members getting the virus. Anyone with a respiratory condition like asthma needs protection because you don’t want to end up in the hospital – either due to COVID or the flu. So, get your flu vaccine as well. 

Go stress free 

Pay attention to your mental health. The stronger your emotional health is, the better your body will feel and the more efficient you’ll be at staying healthy. Studies have shown stress can cause negative health effects, including more symptoms for allergy and asthma sufferers. Try calming therapies to improve symptoms. 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.

Go food allergy free

If you have food allergies, you already know you must watch what you eat to avoid foods to which you’re allergic. Always carry two epinephrine auto injectors with you, and check expiration dates. Teens and college kids sometimes avoid mentioning food allergies because of peer pressures. Encourage them to continue educating their friends and enlisting their help in the battle to stay allergen-free.  

For more information about treatment of allergies and asthma, visit gundersenhealth.org/health-wellness/be-well/when-to-talk-to-your-doctor-about-allergies.

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