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Mild Winter Expected To Trigger Early Start To Wisconsin's Spring Allergy Season

March 10, 2012

Wisconsin Asthma Coalition & Doctors Offer Tips for Relief to Seasonal Sufferers

As Wisconsin emerges from a mild winter, plant and weather experts are predicting earlier budding, blooming and thawing ground statewide. That’s great news for those excited about an early spring, but that activity puts more pollen and mold spores into the air causing a real problem for more than 1 million Wisconsin residents who suffer from asthma and spring allergies like allergic rhinitis or hay fever, according to the Wisconsin Asthma Coalition, a statewide group working to improve asthma management.

“It’s the stuffy nose, sneezing, watery and itching eyes time of year people dread, only this year the uncomfortable conditions will likely arrive earlier and we want people to know there are ways to decrease that suffering,” said Kristen Grimes, senior project manager for the Wisconsin Asthma Coalition. “It is important to work closely with a doctor to have an asthma and allergy plan in place to determine the appropriate prescriptions and medications you will need, and then to follow that plan.”

A challenging issue for many sufferers is that multiple medications often needed to attain relief can prove costly, even with insurance. Doctors indicate rather than skipping or reducing prescriptions, sufferers should not be ashamed to ask for help.

“I encourage patients to talk to their doctors, because they can often offer free samples of an allergy or asthma prescription or direct them toward other patient assistance programs to ease financial concerns,” said Dr. Michael Zacharisen of Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin Asthma and Allergy Clinic in Milwaukee, a professor of pediatrics at the Medical College of Wisconsin and a Wisconsin Asthma Coalition executive committee member. “Another great option is to simply search the Web by typing the name of the allergy or asthma drug they are taking followed by .com. They’ll find numerous sites that offer drug value or co-pay cards, which provide discounts that can save patients significant amounts of money.”

The most important thing patients can do is take the appropriate medication and follow the specific recommendations outlined by their physician. Other tips include:

• Limit exposure outdoors during high pollen and mold counts, especially in early morning and keep windows closed to prevent allergens from getting inside.
• Shower after coming inside from the outdoors to remove potential allergens.
• Use HEPA filters and HEPA air purifiers indoors.
• Wipe down indoor surfaces, use a HEPA filtered vacuum and avoid harsh chemical cleaners opting for more natural cleaning products.
• Keep indoor temperatures below 75 degrees and humidity levels between 30-50 percent.

“There is no cure for allergies or asthma, but working together, doctors and patients can help make these conditions more bearable,” said Dr. Todd Mahr, director of pediatric allergy, asthma and immunology at Gundersen Lutheran Medical Center in La Crosse, leadership board chair of the American Lung Association in Wisconsin and past chair of the Wisconsin Asthma Coalition. “By preparing ahead of time, those with asthma and allergies can greatly reduce their symptoms and find themselves breathing much easier throughout this difficult time of year.”

The Wisconsin Asthma Coalition is an initiative of Children’s Health Alliance of Wisconsin, a statewide voice for children’s health. For more information on asthma and allergies, please visit http://www.chawisconsin.org or http://www.lung.org/lung-disease/asthma/.
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