Spring allergies can trigger asthma

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Ah, glorious Spring.  Trees are budding. Temperatures are rising, luring us outdoors.

“I like to play outside with my friends,” said Alyssa Bland, a seven-year-old.

But there’s a problem with that Spring fun for Alyssa. She’s allergic to tree pollen, and that triggers her asthma. It’s why she’s come to a Children’s Mercy clinic.

“I’ve just noticed she’s had to have more treatments than normal because of this allergy season,” said Alicia Bland, her mother.

Dr. Jay Portnoy, an allergist at Children’s Mercy, says we’ve already had one explosion of tree pollen. Oak and cottonwood are yet to come.

“We expect another explosion of tree pollen in the next week or two,” said Dr. Portnoy.

Tree allergies may trigger asthma in some people for the very first time. So what are the tip-offs that you may have asthma, too?

“If you start having a persistent cough, particularly if it’s worse at bedtime.  If you hear a wheezing sound, a musical whistling sound when you breathe. And certainly if you have labored breathing with a sense of chest tightness,” said Dr. Portnoy.

Those are signs you need medical help.

“The problem with asthma is you can’t breathe. I like to draw the line at breathing, okay?  It’s not purely a qualify of life issue although it is. But if you can’t breathe, that’s really serious,” said Dr. Portnoy.

Alyssa’s mom says she’s had a scare with her asthma before.

“And we didn’t realize how serious it was ’til that moment,” said Alicia Bland.

By having an asthma treatment plan — one tailored for the seasons —  and following it, Alyssa should be safe and able to enjoy Spring.

The grass pollen season will follow in May. The Food and Drug Administration recently approved the first pill that can replace allergy shots for grass allergies. But you have to start taking it four months before grass season, so Dr. Portnoy says it won’t be of help this year.

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