This month the COPD Foundation focused on asthma, allergies, and other things in our environment that can trigger breathing problems. Here’s what we’ve talked about so far here on the Wednesday Check-in for May.
Asthma and COPD are common obstructive lung diseases. Some individuals with symptoms of asthma and COPD are diagnosed with asthma-COPD overlap syndrome (ACOS). Check in— What is Asthma-COPD Overlap Syndrome? (copdfoundation.org)
We learned about the allergy asthma connection, and that sometimes persistent allergies can lead to asthma. We saw how far we’ve come in the last fifty years recognizing the impact allergies can have on our lives when we’re young, and as we age. Check in— The Allergy Asthma Connection (copdfoundation.org)
And we took a look at the My COPD Action Plan and how using it can help track symptoms and avoid exacerbations. Check in—The My COPD Action Plan—An interview with Caroline (copdfoundation.org)
Today in our last May Check-in we are going to take what we learned about ACOS and what we learned from Phyllis and Caroline’s experiences to make a plan for staying as well as possible through times of allergy and environmental challenges.
A good way to start is to set up a calendar-type diary. There is a variety of different ways to do this. To get started, take a look at these options and choose whatever works best for you—and is mostly likely to be something you will keep up with.
- Use an existing calendar with boxes that are big enough to write in.
- Print out a calendar (one month per sheet of paper).
- Search the internet for “allergy calendar tracker”—some are printable and cost $4.00 or less.
- Search the internet for “allergy calendar tracker app.”
- Some apps track allergy counts only.
- Some allow you to track allergies, symptoms, etc.
Here are some suggestions for what to write in your calendar each day.
- Official allergy count.
- Official air quality index number.
- Your symptoms— sneezing, runny nose, itchy, watery eyes, more shortness of breath (SOB) than usual, etc.
- What you did—took a ride along rural fields, worked in garden, spent time near a cat, freshly mowed grass, etc.
- Medications you took—list your routine medications once at the bottom of the page and in the box for each day, write “took meds.” List allergy medications you took on that day.
- If you like, you can color code each day using the stoplight method as in the My COPD Action Plan: green for good days, yellow for days with mild to moderate allergy symptoms, or red for severe symptoms that keep you from functioning as you should.
- Other breathing hazards— wildfires, local factory exhaust, fumes, etc.
Once you start keeping your allergy tracker diary, it might not take too long for you to begin to notice patterns in what may be bringing on your symptoms. You may find yourself saying, “Aha! —no wonder I always feel that way around that time of year!” and that’s a good feeling. So, by figuring out what causes your symptoms, you’ve taken the first step in being able to plan ahead, breathe easier, and go on with living your life!
Do you have seasonal allergies or other environmental triggers? Have you found a way to stay ahead of problems and be prepared for symptoms? Have you ever used an allergy and symptom tracking tool on paper or online?
Let’s talk! I look forward to hearing from you!