Quick Tips to Managing Asthma in the Fall

Did you know that most asthma exacerbations occur in the fall?  Because of allergies, temperature changes, kids going back to school and an increase in respiratory infections, it’s especially important for patients to closely manage their asthma from September through November.  If you or your child has asthma, here are five ways to manage it well.

1) Create an asthma action plan with your healthcare provider.

An asthma action plan is treatment plan you develop with your health care provider that helps to minimize asthma exacerbations and ER visits.  The action plan tells you which medications to take on a daily basis, and which medications to add into the regimen if your asthma flares up. It also explains when you should make an appointment with your provider, and when you should go directly to the ER.   By following the steps in your action plan, you’ll have clarity about dosing of your asthma medications, and you’ll be able to seek prompt care if your symptoms aren’t responding to appropriate treatment.

2) Avoid asthma triggers.

Most asthma patients have specific triggers that worsen their symptoms. Dust, pollen, ragweed, grass, pet dander, anti-inflammatories, mold, sulfites, cold air, humidity and cigarette smoke all have the potential to trigger an asthma exacerbation.   If you have asthma, it’s important to identify your triggers and limit your exposure to them as much as possible.

3)  Pay attention to air quality and weather conditions.

In the Bay Area, air quality can be poor depending on smog, weather conditions and nearby wildfires.  Also, there can be dramatic changes in air temperature and humidity from day to day. It’s important to check the weather and air quality, and stay indoors as much as possible when the conditions aren’t favorable.  If you have to go outside, limit your time outdoors as much as possible, and wear a mask.

4)  Get a flu shot.

During flu season, nearly ⅓ of flu-related hospital admissions are from patients who have asthma.  It’s critical to get your flu shot as early in the fall as possible to prevent a flu-related asthma exacerbation, which is not only serious, but potentially life-threatening.

 5)  Always carry your rescue inhaler.

An asthma patient’s rescue inhaler should always be within arm’s reach.  Whether it’s in your purse or backpack or briefcase or carry-on or nightstand or gym bag or the glove box of your car, make sure that no matter where you are or what you’re doing, you have instant access to your inhaler in the case of an unexpected asthma exacerbation.

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At Golden Gate Urgent Care, we have six Bay Area locations, open 7 days a week, to care for you!  We have on-site nebulizers and other treatments to care for our asthmatic patients. Make an online appointment, or simply walk in if you need us.

IMPORTANT: Call 911 or go directly to the ER if you have any red flags, including dizziness, rapid heart rate or difficulty breathing.

Author
Sarah Thebarge MMSc, PA-C Sarah Thebarge earned her physician assistant degree at Yale School of Medicine, and then studied journalism at Columbia School of Journalism. She has been a physician assistant and a freelance journalist since 2004. In addition to caring for patients at Golden Gate Urgent Care, Sarah frequently volunteers her medical skills in the developing world. Her writing has appeared in Huffington Post, USA Today and National Geographic, and her blog was featured on MSNBC.com. She is the author of the memoir The Invisible Girls and the upcoming book WELL: Healing our Beautiful, Broken World from a Hospital in West Africa. She currently lives in the Mission District of San Francisco.

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