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Weekend Doctor: Don't say "resolutions"

By Maria Slack, MD
Allergy & Immunology Specialists of Northwest Ohio

New Year’s resolutions can feel overwhelming, and guilt-inducing if you can’t keep them. This year, why not assign yourself a few tasks to keep your allergy and asthma symptoms under control in 2023?

The best way to tackle health challenges is in small bits, and that goes for allergy and asthma control too. The last few years have been hard on everyone, but you still want to figure out ways to improve your health routine. Making small, manageable adjustments are a great start to getting on a healthier path toward improvements in controlling allergies and asthma.

The following are a few tasks from the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) that those who suffer from allergies or asthma may want to consider.

It’s tried and true – get smoke out of your life
No list of New Year’s resolutions would be complete without the suggestion to quit smoking. If you or your kids suffer from asthma, you need to rid your house and your life of cigarette smoke. Secondhand smoke is particularly harmful to kids’ lungs, and studies have shown children with asthma who are exposed to secondhand smoke at home have nearly double the risk of being hospitalized than children with asthma who aren’t exposed.

Pay attention to your mental health
The stronger your emotional health, the better your body will feel and the more efficient you’ll be at staying healthy. Studies have shown that stress can cause negative health effects, including more symptoms for allergy and asthma sufferers. Try calming therapies to improve symptoms. Soothing music can be beneficial, as well as doing activities you enjoy that lift your spirit.

See a board-certified allergist
Did you know that most people think their asthma is under control when it’s really not? Also, you may not know that allergists are trained to diagnose and treat asthma symptoms. An allergist can develop a plan tailored to your allergies and asthma to help you lead the life you want. The new year is the perfect time to set up an appointment with an allergist in your area, or to check in with your allergist if you haven’t seen them recently. The ACAAI has an allergist locator to help you find an allergist near you.

Make healthy eating a priority
If you have food allergies, you already know you must watch what you eat to avoid foods to which you are allergic. You might also want to confirm – for both you and your kids with food allergies – that you always carry two epinephrine auto-injectors with you, and that they are up to date. Teens and college kids sometimes avoid mentioning food allergies, so they won’t stick out among their peers. Encourage them to continue educating their friends and enlisting their help in the battle to stay allergen-free.

This year, don’t say “resolutions,” just set some simple goals.