BAYTOWN — (October 14, 2021) — For people living with asthma, the sneezing and wheezing that affects millions during the fall allergy season can trigger potentially serious asthma attacks.
“Whether it’s pollen, mold, hay fever, dust mites or any of the countless allergens drifting through the air this season, the itchy eyes, sneezing, runny nose and nasal congestion that many allergy sufferers endure, can also lead to an asthma attack, in individuals with preexisting asthma or those with undiagnosed asthma,” said Houssam Oueini, MD, a pulmonologist at Houston Methodist Baytown Hospital.
Oueini says a comprehensive approach to managing the condition for asthma patients begins with being prepared for allergy season.
“While asthma can’t be cured, it can be managed so you can live a normal, healthy life. A comprehensive approach to managing asthma is required because it’s a complex, chronic disease and it’s different for every person,” Oueini said. “For people affected by seasonal allergies, great care should be taken to prevent potentially dangerous attacks from occurring or reducing their severity.”
The chemicals released by the immune system lead to allergy symptoms, such as nasal congestion, runny nose, itchy eyes or skin reactions.
“For some, this same reaction also affects the lungs and airways, leading to asthma symptoms,” Oueini said.
Identifying and focusing on ways to reduce exposure to asthma triggers can help minimize flare-ups, but avoidance can be especially difficult during allergy season. In addition to using asthma medications, including quick-relief medicines to stop asthma symptoms and long-term control medicines to prevent symptoms, some asthma patients may be helped by a regimen that includes using daily pills called leukotriene modifiers to control immune system chemicals.
Allergy shots (immunotherapy), administered over time through regular injections, help the immune system build a tolerance to the allergens. Anti-immunoglobulin E (IgE) therapy works to reduce the immune system’s release of IgE—an anti-body used to fight against allergens.
In addition to allergens, other common asthma triggers include air pollution; certain medications, including aspirin and beta-blockers; medical conditions, such as colds, flu and sinus infections; smoke from cigarettes or campfires, and weather conditions, such as cold, dry air or high humidity.
Oueini said maintaining a healthy lifestyle, including getting proper rest, getting an annual flu vaccine, eating a balanced diet and getting regular exercise, are not only good for your overall health, but also can help you manage asthma.
The specialists with Houston Methodist Lung Associates—Oueini, Dr. Skantha Manjunath and Shawn Tittle, MD, provide expertise in treating a full range of pulmonology conditions, such as COPD, bronchitis, asthma, pulmonary hypertension and sleep disorders, and offer services such as pulmonary function testing and minimally invasive surgeries. To schedule an in-person or virtual appointment, visit houstonmethodist.org/baytown or call 281-428-4510.
Houston Methodist Baytown Hospital screens all patients, ensuring only those without COVID-19 symptoms are seen in the office. Masks and personal protective equipment (PPE) are required while providing patient care, and we have reorganized waiting rooms and check-in lines to ensure social distancing. We have also implemented additional sanitation processes to disinfect all equipment and surfaces.
Houston Methodist Baytown is designated as a COVID-19 vaccine hub and provides first dose shots as well as boosters for those meeting FDA and CDC guidelines. Vaccines are open to everyone age 16 and older. Walk-ins are welcome, but you may also schedule an appointment by visiting houstonmethodist.org/vaccine.
About Houston Methodist Baytown Hospital
Houston Methodist Baytown Hospital has provided Baytown and east Harris, Liberty and Chambers counties with excellent medical care since its opening in 1948. The hospital continues to grow to meet the health care needs of its growing community through an ongoing construction and renovation program that has seen the opening of a new emergency center, outpatient center and medical-surgical units. A new five-story patient tower is scheduled to open in 2023. As a health care leader, the hospital is proud to have a fully integrated residency program focused on educating and inspiring future practitioners. Today, Houston Methodist Baytown provides the most advanced and innovative procedures while never wavering from its focus on compassionate care and providing a safe, patient-centered healing environment. Houstonmethodist.org/baytown.