For Your Family: Seasonal Allergies

May 3, 2010 10:53:00 AM PDT
Still have the running nose and watery eyes? Lots of people do. For weeks going into it, experts predicted it was going to be one of the worst allergy seasons. So how bad is it? How much longer will the suffering last? By the way, there is something new in the treatment of allergies. Dr. Laura Rogers, allergy and asthma specialist, visits ABC7 Chicago.

There is a very exciting development in the treatment of allergies, something that can potentially get rid of allergies, not just treat the symptoms. It has been used in Europe but is pending FDA approval.

Free Allergy/Asthma Screenings:

May is allergy and asthma awareness month, and there are free screenings going on throughout the Chicago area:

  • May 13, 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., at Good Samaritan Hospital, 3815 Highland Ave., Downers Grove.
  • May 18, 10 a.m. to 12 p.m., Chicago Ridge Mall, 444 Chicago Ridge Mall, Chicago Ridge
  • The program, sponsored by the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) with support from Teva Respiratory, LLC, has screened an estimated 119,000 people and referred more than half for further diagnosis. The screenings in May are part of National Allergy and Asthma Awareness Month.

    This year, allergists are paying special attention to those who have difficulty breathing during or immediately after exercise and may have a condition called exercise-induced bronchoconstriction (EIB).

    "Often people who cough or get short of breath when they exercise don't think of themselves as being at risk for asthma. The same goes for people who have a cough at night or get colds that settle in their chest," said allergist John Winder, M.D., chair of the Nationwide Asthma Screening Program.

    "But any of these symptoms could be signs of asthma, and the screening program gives adults and children a chance to meet with an allergist who can help them identify the source of their suffering."

    More than 23 million Americans, including 7 million children, have asthma. The disease is responsible for almost 4,000 deaths a year. Although the exact cause of asthma is unknown, many treatments are available to control this chronic inflammation of the airways in the lungs.

    An asthma attack is often triggered by allergens such as pollen, dust and animal dander, certain drugs and food additives, respiratory infections and physical exertion such as exercise.

    When people exercise, they often breathe rapidly through their mouth instead of their nose which warms and humidifies air. As a result, the cold, dry air that reaches the bronchial tubes can trigger asthma symptoms. These symptoms typically occur within five to 15 minutes from the start of exercise and may occur for several minutes after exercise has stopped. Between 80 percent to 90 percent of all people with asthma suffer some degree of exercise-induced bronchoconstriction.

    "With the right diagnosis and treatment, including medication, anyone with asthma can be active," said Dr. Winder. "No one should accept anything less. If you've experienced these symptoms or just want to make sure you have good control of your asthma, attend a free screening and find relief."

    During a screening, adults complete a 20-question Life Quality (LQ) Test developed by ACAAI for the program. Children under age 15 take a special test called the Kids' Asthma Check that allows them to answer questions themselves about any breathing problems. Another version of the Check is available for parents of children up to 8 years of age to complete on their child's behalf.

    Participants also take a lung function test that involves blowing into a tube, and then meet with an allergist to determine if they should seek a thorough examination and diagnosis.

    For a list of asthma screening locations and dates or to take online versions of the LQ Test and Kids' Asthma Check, visit www.AllergyAndAsthmaRelief.org


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