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Examiner
  • Lori Boyajian-O'Neill: Asthma and allergies in Kansas City

  • Pollen season has arrived in Kansas City. After a cold and snowy winter, spring is here and blooms abound. Beautiful to see but hard to breathe. Pollen can cause severe allergies in some and trigger asthma in others. Over 22 million Americans have asthma, 6 million of them children. Allergies, asthma and spring time in Kansas City, what do you know?

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  • Pollen season has arrived in Kansas City. After a cold and snowy winter, spring is here and blooms abound. Beautiful to see but hard to breathe. Pollen can cause severe allergies in some and trigger asthma in others. Over 22 million Americans have asthma, 6 million of them children. Allergies, asthma and spring time in Kansas City, what do you know?
    T or F?
    1. Steroids are not prescribed for the treatment of asthma.
    2. In a classroom of 30 children, one will likely have asthma.
    3. Tree pollen always triggers asthma.
    Asthma is set off by a variety of triggers. For some, airborne chemicals, smoke, molds, pollens, dust, animal fur or other allergens can cause an attack. For others the triggers include changes in weather, cool dry indoor air and even exercise. Awareness of triggers is very important in prevention of an attack and optimal management. Those whose trigger is tree pollen may gain relief by avoiding the outdoors, for example.
    Ash accounts for about half of the total tree pollen count in Kansas City. Cladosporium is the most common mold. The combination of tree blooms and wet weather saturates the air with allergens, leaving victims with uncomfortable symptoms including watery and itchy eyes, nasal congestion, runny nose and even breathing problems like asthma. In a classroom of 30 children, an average of two will have asthma. It is the single most commonly cited reason for school absences. Asthma is a chronic disease characterized by shortness of breath, which can be very mild or extreme and life-threatening. In some, coughing is the only indicator of asthma. Others may experience wheezing and/or chest tightness. When a person experiences an ‘asthma attack’ the lining of the airways becomes inflamed and swollen, limiting air movement. There is excessive production of mucus causing narrowing of the air passages, making breathing even more difficult.
    Asthma cannot be cured, but it can be controlled. Treatment for asthma is focused on decreasing inflammation, decreasing mucus and opening airways. Inhaled steroids are often prescribed to control inflammation. Albuterol is a commonly used medication that is inhaled or puffed by patients during an attack. Daily use of albuterol inhaler is a sign that the asthma is not controlled. This should prompt consultation with a physician for assessment and implementation of a comprehensive management plan or asthma action plan.
    The goal of treatment is stabilization of the disease and prevention of attacks. An AAP provides individualized guidance for patients and can be obtained at primary care or asthma specialty clinics. It helps patients determine which medications to use, when to go to an emergency department or call 911.
    Asthma is not always linked to allergies, but when it is the Kansas City springtime can mean misery. To learn more contact the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology at www.aaaai.org.
    Page 2 of 2 - Answers: 1. F; 2 F; 3 F.
    Dr. Lori Boyajian-O’Neill can be contacted at lori.boyajian-oneill@hcahealthcare.com.
     
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