It’s sneeze and sniffle season – here are some tips to help

Hello! My name is Cristin Sprenger and I am an Extension Agent for Family and Consumer Sciences.

Before I get to today’s topic, I want to give a quick reminder about an upcoming program. The BQA chute side certification workshop in Mill Gap is this Thursday, March 17th at 4:00 p.m. Please call the Highland office (468-2225) by Wednesday to register.

And now for today’s topic. I’m going to talk about allergies and asthma.

It’s almost spring! Are you or someone you know starting to sniffle? Do you feel better when you are inside? Or do you feel better when you are away from home? Does it seem like every family you know has someone who suffers from allergies or asthma? That is because over 60 million Americans, or 1 out of every 4 of us, suffer from these conditions- and that number is on the rise!

An allergy is a disease of the immune system. It occurs when a substance causes an overreaction in a person’s body, resulting in a broad range of symptoms. Asthma is a disease of the lungs. During an asthma attack, airways become narrow or blocked, causing breathing difficulty, wheezing, coughing, chest tightness, and other symptoms. Often, asthma episodes are triggered by an allergic reaction.

There are no cures for allergies or asthma. However, they can be managed with careful prevention and treatment. One of the most important steps is to remove allergy and asthma triggers from your home. Common triggers are pollen, pet dander, dust mites, cigarette smoke, mold, roaches, and the use of certain cleaning and personal care products. Consider these tips to see how you can help protect your family and those who visit your home.

• Clean your house often. If possible, have someone without allergies or asthma do the cleaning, or wear a dust mask.
• Remove household clutter and take out your trash regularly. These things can harbor pests that can cause allergic reactions.
• Follow the furnace manufacturer’s instructions for replacing the air filter. This can help with increasing the efficiency of your furnace (so it saves you money), but it will also help with keeping potential allergens out of your home.
• Remove carpet flooring or use a vacuum with a High Efficiency Particle Air (HEPA) filter.
• Cover pillows and mattresses with a zippered plastic cover- available at local department stores.
• Wash bedding every week in hot water.
• Fix plumbing leaks, drips, and cracks to control mold and pest problems.
• Don’t have pets, or keep pets outside and off fabric-covered furniture.
• Don’t allow smoking in your home or car.

If you suspect you have allergies or asthma, it may be time to seek help from a medical professional. There are a number of ways that they can help with preventing and treating allergy and asthma attacks before and during an episode.

For more tips and information, visit They have information for parents and kids on allergies and asthma. They also have an Asthma Action Plan that you can download.

You can help avoid the emergency room by managing your child’s asthma daily. With a doctor’s help, you can create an Asthma Action Plan to help you take care of your child and reduce the triggers in your home.
When you and your doctor make the plan, be sure to include:
• Your child’s asthma triggers.
• Instructions for asthma medicines.
• What to do if your child has an asthma attack.
• When to call your doctor.
• Emergency telephone numbers.
Use this Asthma Action Plan at home, school, and with your babysitter. Be sure to give a copy of your child’s asthma plan to your child’s school (teacher, coach, nurse) and talk it over with them. In case of an attack, they will know what to do. If you follow the steps in this plan, you can help prevent your child from having asthma attacks.

Do you have questions about ways to make your home better for someone with allergies and asthma? You can contact me, Cristin Sprenger, to find out what free resources are available. You can reach me by calling the Highland County Extension office at 540-468-2225or the Bath County Extension office at 540-839-7261.

Story By

Heather Niday

Heather is our Program Director and Traffic Manager. She started with Allegheny Mountain Radio as a volunteer deejay. She then joined the AMR staff in February of 2007. Heather grew up in the Richmond, Virginia, area and now lives in Arbovale, West Virginia with her husband Chuck. Heather is a wonderful flute player, and choir director for Arbovale UMC. You can hear Heather along with Chuck on Tuesday nights from 6 to 8pm as they host two hours of jazz on Something Different.

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