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When you think of asthma, do you picture a nerdy kid taking a break from gym class to use his inhaler? That's how the movies portray it. But in reality, asthma affects the young and the old, and it strikes indoors and out. And many times, asthma is triggered by allergens – not always exercise or activity.
In fact, allergies are of the strongest triggers of wheezing, says Renuka Basavaraju, MD, a physician on the medical staff at Baylor Irving. "Allergic reactions are actually overreactions by the body to a foreign substance, like pollen, pet dander or dust mites," she says.
"It's that overreaction that can lead to inflammation of the airways, causing airway spasms and wheezing."
Asthma, whether triggered by allergies, exercise, cold weather or something else, should be diagnosed by a physician. "If you have wheezing, coughing and shortness of breath, see a doctor," advises Dr. Basavaraju. "And if it's allergy-induced, find out what it is you're allergic to."
The best way to treat allergy-induced asthma is to avoid the trigger. "With most patients, when they remove the allergens, they get better," Dr. Basavaraju says. So be on the lookout for your triggers. "Keep an eye on pollen counts. And if every time you vacuum or sweep you start wheezing, that's a pretty good indicator that's a trigger of yours," Dr. Basavaraju says. "Have someone else do that chore."
But avoidance isn't your only option. "The primary treatment of asthma is medication," Dr. Basavaraju says. "Quick-relief medicines open up airways. But more important are the controller therapies, which reduce inflammation and prevent the airway spasms from happening in the first place."
For more information or for a physician referral, please call 1.800.4BAYLOR or search our physician directory.
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