SPRING AND ASTHMA
Patients with asthma often complain about difficulty with cough, nasal congestion, and some wheezing during the change of seasons, i.e. spring and fall. The spring season has started slowly in our area due to unseasonably low temperatures. However, I have noticed trees starting to leaf out and some early spring flowers are beginning to bloom. I have also noticed an increase in the complaints from my asthma patients with the symptoms I mentioned above.
In the past, I would treat most of my asthma patients at this time of the year with symptomatic therapy, i.e. nasal decongestants, occasional antihistamines, and in the worst case scenario a short burst of oral steroids. Most of these patients were on solid conventional treatment for their asthma, utilizing inhaler therapy that contained a long acting bronchodilator and long acting inhaled corticosteroid. On careful questioning they would admit that they have symptoms at other times during the year, just not as severe. These asthma patients would be considered to have uncontrolled asthma despite the use of conventional therapy.
Asthma patients with these symptoms should have so-called “biomarkers” checked to see if they have a significant allergic component to their disease. These tests, which are blood tests looking for two prominent components of the immunologic system, help to determine if the patient may respond to new types of biologic therapies, which have really made a difference for many of our asthma patients. Do not hesitate to mention your seasonal symptoms with your asthma doctor.