Allergies — Take Care, But Most of All — Prevent
When it's difficult to breathe, nothing else matters. In the US, nearly one in every five people suffers from allergic respiratory disorders. The incidence seems to be on the rise and it is not just a matter of better recognition of the condition. Risk factors for the problem include the inheritance of the tendency from allergic parents, environmental exposures, the misfortune of certain respiratory infections early in life and life's stresses. Nearly half of us with upper airway allergies (such as hay fever, allergic rhinosinusitis, chronic ear infections), certain recurrent respiratory tract infections and possibly eczema (atopic dermatitis) have been shown to have some of the manifestations of asthma.
These conditions have a major adverse impact on our families, our jobs, our school performance and the cost of healthcare in the community. Allergy symptoms and wheezing are among the most common conditions leading to emergency department use and absences from both school and work. In addition to the major symptoms of these conditions, often there are other symptoms such as headaches and gastrointestinal disturbances. The ability to learn new information as school or at work often is impaired not only because of the symptoms of the disorders but also because of the multiple potential side effects from a variety of medications used in combination with other drugs to control symptoms.
Mindful of the leading edges of our understanding of the causes and treatments of these conditions, we now can provide the necessary care and prevention of the early manifestations of allergic disorders for the vast majority of those who experience allergy symptoms. The code words for providing an improved quality of life for individuals who so frequently suffer from the punishing effects of allergies and asthma truly are care and prevention. The goal should not be only to treat the conditions, but also to prevent escalation of symptoms so that you can Catch Your Breath for Life.
Article written by By Sandy Avner, MD, Allergy & Asthma Care and Prevention Center Sky Ridge Medical Center, Conifer Building