Allergy and Asthma:
Nothing is more frustrating when one of those “allergy” days slows you down and steals your motivation to do your normal activities. More than 50 million Americans have allergies and 20 million have asthma. I’m one of those 20 million and when a reaction begins and I sense days of trouble ahead. I want to run for cover. It can feel like an eternity from that first sign to the day I feel normal again.
“Allergens,” the substances that trigger the allergies, can be sneaky. It’s not just about spring flowers, dust, and pet dander in the air. Changes in temperature can spell trouble for me, as can heaters and air conditioners. Lots of allergens also hide in unsuspecting drugs, cosmetics, and foods. For example, fruit can harbor lots of pollen inside and cause problems. Other source under-recognized reactions are food additives. Number of additives used to color, preserve, and flavor the food; it is difficult to pinpoint exactly which foods to avoid. From breakfast cereals and other grain products to beverages, cheese, canned vegetables, salad dressings, and condiments, additives are everywhere–even in foods you wouldn’t consider as processed.
Even though I’ve managed my asthma for decades now, it can still catch me by surprise. I lose my energy and have a hard time concentrating. My workouts aren’t the same and I’m not in the mood to be as active and social. I wish I could just flip a switch and be healthy again. But I also know I can’t use them as an excuse to stop everything and sit out. This is when I need to tune in to my body and environment and find ways to move past them!
Whether you’ve allergies or asthma, here are a few tips to consider:
- Keep a journal. The next time you feel a reaction coming on, write down what you ate, your environment and climate, and what you think is triggering your reaction. Do this every time a reaction occurs and start to notice any trends that arise. Once you know exactly what can trigger your allergies or asthma, it’ll be easier to prevent and manage in the future.
- Read the signs or go organic. Carefully read ingredient lists on fo od labels, and question restaurant staff about cooking methods. Avoid anything that says “artificial flavor” and “natural flavor” (they pretty much mean the same thing). A better option is to go organic! Avoid additives and preservatives altogether by opting for organic foods whenever possible.
- Clear the air. Control dust mites, pet dander and mold spores by vacuuming frequently, wiping down bedroom walls to remove invisible dust and limiting the number of houseplants, as these can harbor mold. Also, consider the use of a dehumidifier to limit mold. If you’re sensitive to heaters and air conditioners like me, avoid direct exposure to the air ducts that blow out the air.
- Get moving. Sometimes getting a workout is just what the doctor ordered. Don’t use your allergies or asthma as excuses to avoid exercise, simply pay attention to your body’s signals and make your routine shorter or less strenuous if you have to, or extend the length of your warm up and cool downs. The adrenaline and sweat you pump out will boost your mood, help flush out your system, and shift your mind away from your frustrations!