The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) today reminded New Yorkers with asthma - who may be at risk of increased symptoms during allergy season - to practice good asthma management, including identifying and avoiding asthma triggers and taking appropriate medications as directed by a health care provider. During the past week, DOHMH's syndromic surveillance system detected an increase in the sales of over-the-counter allergy medication, as is typically seen at the beginning of allergy seasons.
"For individuals who have both asthma and allergies, the spring allergy season can be particularly difficult," said DOHMH Commissioner Thomas R. Frieden, MD, MPH. "Their asthma may worsen and they may also experience symptoms of seasonal allergies, include sneezing, coughing, and a runny nose. Persons with asthma should work with their health care provider to make sure they are using the right medications and reducing exposure to asthma triggers. With proper asthma management, individuals with asthma can minimize their symptoms, avoid unnecessary hospital visits, and lead healthy, active lives."
NYC Asthma Facts
DOHMH estimates that in New York City, approximately 300,000 children and 700,000 adults have been diagnosed with asthma at some point in their lives. Asthma is the leading cause of hospitalization among children 0-14 years of age and a major source of school absenteeism. It also causes adults to miss work and limits physical activity.
Active Asthma and Allergy Management
Individuals with asthma can take several steps to manage their asthma:
Asthma/Allergy Triggers and Prevention
- Ask your doctor about long-term control asthma medicines if you have frequent asthma symptoms (i.e., symptoms on more than two days per week, or nighttime symptoms more than two nights per month).
- If you do not have a written asthma management plan or if your asthma medications have changed, work with your (or your child's) doctor to develop an Asthma Action Plan. Learn more at http://www.nyc.gov/health/asthma, or call 311 and ask for the Asthma Action line.
- Take medications as directed by your health care provider.
- For school-aged children, ask your child's doctor to complete a school medication administration form so that your child can take his/her asthma medicines at school.
- Talk to your healthcare provider about prescription or over-the-counter allergy medications to help reduce or eliminate allergy symptoms.
- Ask your healthcare provider about taking asthma medicine before you exercise.
- Work with your health care provider to find out what triggers your asthma and how to limit exposure (e.g., regular cleaning and weekly washing of pillows and bedding covers in hot water to reduce exposure to dust mites).
- Don't smoke and avoid exposure to tobacco smoke as it can trigger asthma episodes.
- Use safe methods to control pests like roaches and rodents (e.g., seal cracks and crevices, use bait stations and gels, and store food in air tight containers).
- Wash your hands regularly to reduce the spread of germs that cause colds and infections.
- Get a flu shot every year
- Prevent pollen and certain outdoor air pollutants from entering your home by keeping your windows and door closed when pollen counts or air pollution levels are high. Use air conditioning in warm weather if possible and clean its filter regularly.
- A HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) cleaner may help reduce exposure to some asthma triggers. Follow the manufacturer's directions for cleaning it.
New Yorkers can call 311 or visit http://www.nyc.gov/health/asthma for more information on active asthma management.