Posted on January 9, 2023

Many of us use the first of the year to resolve to be better at something or other. There are lots of things those of us with allergies and asthma can do to have a better year.

Although it's a common myth that the immune system can be "boosted" with large amounts of this or that vitamin or mineral, it is very true that we need to give the immune system all the tools it needs to do its job. Paying more attention to nutrition is the best way to better immune health - eat a well-rounded diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables, reduce carbohydrates, and consider taking a daily multivitamin with minerals. Try as we might, most of us in modern society don't take the time to pay as much attention to adequate nutrition as we should, and taking a supplement to ensure we get 100% of the US recommended daily allowance (RDA) of all the essential vitamins and minerals is a huge step toward immune health.

Increasing data over the past 20 years indicates the importance of bacteria in our intestines as an important element of immune health. Further, changes in diet in modern society with the increase of fast and nutrition-poor food results in a change in the types of bacteria in the gut. Data about specific types of bacteria are conflicting, so the best advice is to simply do something - simply taking some sort of probiotic and prebiotic is helpful, regardless of which one you choose.

The best, low-cost, drug-free way to manage allergies is to reduce or eliminate exposure to the allergens that cause reactions. There are many sources that list lots of ways to reduce your exposure to allergens, but few of these highlight the importance of seeing an allergist to get evaluated so that relevant allergen avoidance measures can be used - you can spend tens of hours and hundreds of dollars on reducing your exposure to dust mites, but if you aren't allergic to dust mites, those efforts won't help your symptoms. See an allergist and get tested, so you know exactly where to focus your efforts at allergen avoidance.

Many medications are now available over the counter to self-treat allergies, which are very helpful to people. But these medications work best when used properly, and the role of physicians in general, and allergists in particular in this case, is that of an educator. Even a single, simple televisit to review your situation and discuss the optimal use of over-the-counter medications can be surprisingly helpful!

The best things to do to help asthma are to avoid irritants and get testing. Nonspecific irritants such as tobacco smoke, campfires, and polluted air are very irritating to the lungs. It's a lot easier and much more obvious to avoid allergic triggers such as pets that are known to cause asthma attacks in a given person. Just as importantly, see an asthma specialist to get lung function testing, which is the best way to know that your asthma control regimen is optimal. Even if symptoms are well controlled, there could still be some airway inflammation that will lead to problems in the long run if not adequately treated. The best long-term outcomes are achieved when testing is done to ensure that lung inflammation of asthma is completely controlled, not just controlled to the point of having no symptoms. Getting tested to ensure that all lung inflammation is completely controlled leads to the best outcomes.

Let us know how we can help you have a happy, healthy New Year!

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