Spring is in the Air, So Are Allergies and Asthma

May 6, 2019, Shirley Blake

As I am writing this blog, it is “National Air Quality Awareness Week” and “National Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month”. Being a native Oregonian, I can’t help but to be thankful for the air quality in  Oregon. Throughout my life I

have been very aware of all the lovely vegetation that aides in good air quality. As I have grown, met people and had children, I have become aware that our beautiful vegetation produces many allergens in our air. An added layer is that we live in a region that proudly holds the title of “The Grass Seed Capital of the World”. In Oregon, there are about 1500 grass seed farmers with the majority of them located in Linn, Benton and Lincoln counties.

With that in mind, I think that it’s time I blog about my personal experiences with asthma. As a child, I remember when school staff offered the option of reading in the library instead of going out to recess, and I would joyfully choose going to the library. I had no idea that I had a problem, and no adults ever noticed the trouble I had with coughing. As a young adult, my co-workers pointed out that my cough drops were not cutting it. I made a doctor’s appointment and was diagnosed with asthma. I tried my inhaler when working out and it was so much easier to breathe. I couldn’t help but to think how helpful it would have been during my entire childhood PE classes, or the sports I participated in. The chance of having a respiratory diagnosis came to my attention through a couple of co-workers pointing out that I cough more than normal. However, to me it was normal to cough frequently. It was
late fall and in the chilly fall evenings I was training for a 10k run. Cold air and exercising caused me to cough and it was nothing new in my life. Since being diagnosed with asthma, I definitely acknowledge my sensitivity in air quality. I avoid smoking areas, am conscious of household pet hair, and try to sweep or clean as much as I have time for. Awareness and diagnosis have been the most helpful but here are also things that have helped:

  • Indoor plants- improve air quality and give me peace of mind

    My first 10k in the fall of 2013.
  • Air purifier- great tool to have especially during summer fire season/poor air quality
  • Mindful breathing- I notice I hold my breath when I get stressed
  • Essential oils- I have eucalyptus in my car and in my desk to aide sensory stimulation in
    breathing
  • Warm drinks- cold air and drinks make me cough so warm drinks during the winter and ice-free
    drinks during the summer help with asthma symptoms
  • Inhaler- before I exercise I take my inhaler or if I can’t stop coughing

As always, contact your health care provider if you have any health concerns. Below is a list of what
asthma symptoms look like:

  • Coughing, especially at night
  • Wheezing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest tightness, pain, or pressure

Since it is also Allergy Awareness Month, below is a list of seasonal allergies symptoms (which are
different than asthma symptoms):

  • sneezing
  • itchy nose and/or throat
  • nasal congestion
  • clear, runny nose
  • coughing

Breathing is essential, and in the past, it is something I did not think twice about. I am thankful for
awareness diagnosis and treatment. Identifying what troublesome breathing symptoms are enabled me
to help my son get to urgent care when he was struggling to breathe. He was able to get a breathing
treatment to help his lungs. When we go to the park or engage in high-energy activities, I make sure to
pack his inhaler and keep it nearby.

I will post some information and resources below for your continued learning.

Knowing What’s In the Air– Pollen Counts
More Than Asthma, More Than Food Allergies -More than 60 million Americans overall have asthma and allergies, 26 million have asthma.
What Causes or Triggers Asthma? People with asthma have inflamed airways which are sensitive to
things which may not bother other people. These things are “triggers.”

As always thank you for reading. I hope you learned something new to help yourself or someone else in
the future. I wish you a happy easy-breathing spring! Until next time!