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Do your asthma symptoms get worse at work but when you go home the symptoms lessen, and you can breathe a lot easier? If so, you could have work-related asthma. Substances on your job site are likely aggravating your asthma.

welding with face protection

Asthma is a severe health problem that can be caused on a construction site by breathing in or having skin contact with dust, gases, fumes, and vapors. Specific construction site asthma triggers include grout, cement, solvents, lime, paint, diesel emissions, epoxy resins, adhesives, welding fumes, shotcrete, mold, and smoke.

Welding fumes, for example, are produced during welding. Welders have a greater chance of getting asthma than the average worker. Those who weld stainless steel are especially vulnerable because the fumes contain chromium and nickel.

Asthma caused in the workplace or on a job site is known as occupational asthma.

What is an Asthma Attack?

The muscle wall of the lungs contracts and the lining of the airways become swollen and inflamed during an asthma attack. These changes cause the airways to narrow obstructing the flow of air. Shortness of breath, wheezing, painful coughing and tightness in the chest are just some of the symptoms those living with occupational asthma may have to deal with every day.

How to Control Asthma

Control asthma by taking medicine and avoiding triggers that can cause asthma symptoms. Construction site workers should minimize exposure to triggers, wear the appropriate safety equipment, report malfunctioning equipment to the work safety officer and see a medical professional if they think they are experiencing asthma symptoms.

Occupational Asthma

a construction site

According to the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) “approximately 11 million workers are exposed to at least one agent associated with occupational asthma.”

And a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, published in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, concluded 2.7 million American workers might have asthma caused or aggravated by on-the-job conditions.

More than 300 substances in the workplace can cause or worsen asthma. Symptoms can develop immediately after exposure, or they can develop months or years after repeated exposure. Worsening asthma or new onset asthma should raise questions about job site causes.

Symptoms of Occupational Asthma

Symptoms of occupational asthma get better on weekends and vacations. In some cases, however, symptoms do not improve until an extended period away from the exposure or trigger.

Workers can get occupational asthma even when using personal protective equipment (PPE) such as respirators, face masks or gloves.

How to Minimize Your Risk of an Asthma Attack at Work

Request Ventilation

Discuss ventilation and other allergen filtering systems with the safety officer.

Find an Alternative

Examine less caustic alternatives with your supervisor if you identify asthma-triggering substances.

Wear Safety Equipment

Protect yourself by always wearing the required safety equipment to limit exposure to triggers.

See a Medical Professional

Your doctor can diagnose asthma. Tell your doctor about work exposures. Also, consider documenting when and where your symptoms occur so you can share the details of tasks you complete at work and the materials you use. In addition to a complete physical, your doctor may also administer a peak flow test, and develop a personal asthma control plan.

Manage Your Asthma

If you’ve been prescribed asthma medicine, take it as directed. Don’t skip doses because you feel better and make sure they haven’t expired. Always keep your inhaler within reach in case you experience an attack.

Talk to Your Co-Workers

Let the safety officer know something is triggering your asthma so you can work together. Your supervisor may suggest you work in another location, use an alternative product or use additional protective gear. Share your asthma action plan, so your co-workers know what to do if you experience an attack.

How to Treat Occupational Asthma

an asthma inhaler

Avoiding or reducing exposure to triggers is the most critical step. Asthma is treated with two types of medicine:

Quick-relief rescue inhalers which open the airways. Those living with asthma use rescue inhalers to treat asthma attacks or flare-ups.

Long-term control medicines which reduce inflammation in the airways. Asthma patients use these medicines to help keep asthma symptoms from occurring. When these medications are working well, inhalers are not used as much.

Final Thoughts

Address asthma symptoms with your supervisors as soon possible. Long-term exposure to substances that cause asthma can cause permanent lung damage. Seek out a medical professional who can help you develop an action plan to manage your condition on the job site.

 

During the blazing days of summer, local television and radio commentators will often announce a local Air Quality Advisory, cautioning people to remain indoors if possible as the air is dangerously polluted.

factories polluting the air

Do you know what causes an air quality alert, and what it means for you and your family?

An Air Quality Advisory is a warning that air pollution levels are high. Several things contribute to air pollution such as carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, and lead, but the two most significant threats to public health are:

The Air Quality Index

flamingo in the smog

There are also different air quality alert codes. The Air Quality Index (AQI) reports daily air quality. The index advises you of how polluted the air is and the health effects that might concern you. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) established national air quality standards and calculates the AQI for the air pollutants regulated by the Clean Air Act.

The EPA uses a color-coded system, assigning a different color to each AQI category. Color-coding makes it easier for the public to visualize when air pollution has reached unhealthy levels, and what the effects might be when you reach a certain color level.

They are:

So, What Should You Do When an Air Advisory Occurs?

If you hear an air advisory, reduce exposure by staying indoors with the windows tightly shut.

If you do venture outside, limit your time outdoors, and restrict strenuous activities. Keep windows in your car closed to avoid exposure to pollutants. Consider wearing a face mask, especially if you are doing yard work or other activities where you are exposed to additional allergens.

If you have asthma, always keep your rescue inhaler with you and take any preventative medicines prescribed by your physician.

Stay hydrated and breathe properly. Breathe through your nose, because it is the nose’s job to filter the air. You bypass this filtration system when you breathe through your mouth.

salt lamp

Invest in an air purifier. Even indoors, although the air may look clean, it can be saturated with microbes and dust particles. These microscopic air particles enter your lungs and throat, aggravating respiratory issues like asthma and COPD.

Air quality varies around the United States. Ozone, for instance, can pose a significant problem for those living with asthma and is more prevalent in urban areas. Visit airnow.gov, a website developed by federal, state and local agencies to monitor air quality. You can also download their app. The EPA also has a feature on its website called My Environment, which provides you with an air-quality forecast for your zip code.

What Can You Do to Keep the Air Cleaner?

There are lots of things you can to that will help reduce air pollution and keep the air we breathe cleaner, not only on an Air Advisory Day but every day!

As the winter season moves in, so does the flu and for those with asthma, this can be an exceptionally stressful time of year. If you have asthma, even a minor case of the flu can lead to tightness in the chest and wheeziness.

man walking in a snow storm

The flu is a common cause of asthma attacks, and standard asthma medications may not relieve the asthma symptoms that come with it. Though people living with asthma are not more likely to catch the flu, influenza can be more severe for them, even if their symptoms are well-maintained with medication. People living with asthma have sensitive and swollen airways, and the flu can cause more inflammation.

A flu infection in the airways can worsen asthma symptoms and set off asthma attacks. It can also lead to pneumonia and other acute respiratory issues.

There’s no guaranteed way to prevent getting the flu. However, taking measures to avoid becoming ill during the flu season can help. Being proactive during the flu season is essential if you have asthma.

Take these precautionary measures to avoid getting the flu.

Get a Flu Shot

Possibly the most critical step in protecting against influenza is vaccination. Get the actual shot, not the nasal spray vaccine as the spray can produce asthma symptoms.

Even if you don’t have a regular physician, you can get a flu vaccine. They are offered in various locations including pharmacies, health departments, clinics, college health centers, public schools, and sometimes at your place of employment.

Flu vaccines are approved for those six months and older regardless of whether they have asthma. Encourage your family members to get vaccinated too. This will reduce exposure to the virus not only for the one who has asthma but also for everyone else in the household.

Get a Pneumococcal Shot

Pneumonia infections are a dangerous complication of the flu infection and can lead to death. You can usually get a pneumococcal vaccine at the same time you receive your influenza vaccine.

Avoid Those Who are Sick

lady with a cold and medications

Germs that produce respiratory infections are effortlessly passed from one person to another. They especially spread quickly in tight spaces. It can be tough to avoid someone who is sick when you are in close quarters such as your household or at your place of employment.

When a sick person sneezes, coughs, or even talks, minuscule drops of mucus hit the air and can spread out up to six feet away. You can end up taking them in through your mouth or nose, so keep your distance.

Be cognizant of your surroundings. People are most contagious when they start having symptoms such as coughing, runny nose, fever, or body aches.

Wash Your Hands Frequently

Washing your hands kills the germs that cause respiratory infections. This is especially important if you’ve been in a crowded area such a shopping area, school, or office where you may have come into contact with someone who has the flu.

Use warm water, lots of soap and rub your hands together for at least 20 seconds. Don’t forget the areas between your fingers, under your nails, on your wrists and slightly up your arm.

Always keep a bottle of hand sanitizer in your car or at your desk.

Don’t Touch Eyes, Nose, or Mouth

Avoid touching your face as these are the points where germs enter the body. If you touch something that a person with the flu virus has coughed or sneezed on, and then you put your fingers near your mouth, nose, or eyes, you’re very likely to get sick too.

Clean and Disinfect Surfaces

washing hands during flu season

Some germs can live on surfaces for up to 24 hours. Most microbes usually only survive up to eight hours. However, some viruses that cause the common cold can survive on surfaces for months.

To stop the spread of germs, clean and disinfect surfaces that are frequently touched at home, school, or work. Focus on areas such as countertops, doorknobs, tables, refrigerators, and faucets. Don’t overlook laptops, phones, remote controls, and computers.

Use a can of Lysol or other disinfecting spray or use disinfecting wipes. A quarter cup of bleach mixed in one gallon of water also works as a disinfectant.

Personalize Your Asthma Action Plan

Create and stick to a winter asthma action plan with your doctor. This is an organized plan that is used to prevent or reduce flare-ups.

Each plan should include what medicines to take, a list of possible triggers, actual symptoms, and when to seek emergency medical care. If you notice the signs of an asthma attack, alter your medications as instructed in your written asthma action plan. You should always have at least one or two fast-acting medicines on hand.

You should also make it a habit of using a peak flow meter. This device will monitor your asthma. Take readings at the same time every day and record them in a diary. If you observe a decrease in the peak flow, alter your medications as directed in your written asthma plan.

Use a home salt therapy device like Salin Plus which releases tiny salt particles and filters the air of other particulates, including dust and allergens to help relieve asthma symptoms.

Bronchitis is a condition in which the bronchioles, or the fine network of tubes within the lungs, become inflamed and full of mucus. For most people, bronchitis typically lasts about ten days.

Using anti-inflammatory medication, such as ibuprofen, aspirin, or naproxen, is a great way to help manage many of the symptoms that accompany bronchitis, particularly swelling and irritation of the bronchioles, pain, fever, and general achiness.

You don’t have to rely on chemical-laden medication or cough syrups to ease the symptoms of bronchitis.

The common symptoms of this condition, such as a sore throat, coughing, fever, and body aches, can be soothed by several different natural remedies.

1. Anti-Inflammatories

You can help improve your body’s natural ability to fight inflammation by supplementing your diet with foods that are naturally high in anti-inflammatory properties, such as ginger, clove, turmeric, cinnamon, garlic, leafy green vegetables, pineapple, and blueberries. Ginger and turmeric are even available in supplement form, although it may be difficult to swallow a pill if you are experiencing significant swelling or dryness of the throat.

2.  Humidifier

Using a humidifier can immediately affect your level of comfort when battling the inevitable dryness and irritation that arises with bronchitis. Depending on the general temperature of your home and the weather outside, you can opt for either a cool or a warm mist humidifier. Adding moisture to the air will help to prevent dryness and irritation in the delicate tissues of your nose and throat. The ideal setup would be to have the humidifier near your bed while you are asleep, but you could also move the humidifier to any room that you frequent throughout the day and still reap the benefits.

3.  Salt Therapy

Salt therapy is relatively new to the home remedy scene. However, the benefits of salt therapy regarding the treatment of respiratory conditions has been known for over 100 years when people discovered that workers in salt caves often were not afflicted by respiratory illness.

Salt therapy spas are cropping up all over the world, and they involve sitting in a room designed to imitate a salt cave. Today’s salt therapy rooms use a machine to crush salt into tiny particles which are then released into the air. If you don’t have a salt therapy spa in your local area, you may want to consider purchasing the home version, called Salin Plus Salt Therapy. This home therapy works like an air filter, filtering out most allergens as it pulls air into the unit and mixing the air with tiny salt particles as it is pushed out of the fan.

4.  Honey, Lemon, and Warm Drinks

After spending hours coughing throughout the day and night, your throat is bound to be very dry and sore. You can ease your discomfort by drinking plenty of fluids to keep the lining of your throat lubricated. Warm drinks, such as your favorite tea, are especially helpful and can be mixed with anti-inflammatory spices such as ginger, clove, or cinnamon.

Lemon or orange could also be added to your diet to boost your immune system and cut through mucus. Try swallowing a spoonful of honey or adding a bit to hot water or tea to help temporarily coat your throat and provide pain relief.

5.  Ginseng

Throughout the ages, ginseng has been used to treat many symptoms and conditions ranging from infertility to low energy. Ginseng is also effective at soothing headaches, reducing inflammation, and improving overall lung functionality by eliminating harmful bacteria within the lung tissue.

Ginseng is available in capsule form, but you may find it difficult to swallow capsules with a sore throat. In this case, ginseng tea would be the ideal method for treating bronchitis symptoms. Adding honey and ginger would really ramp-up the effectiveness of this treatment.

making essential oils at home

6.  Essential Oils

Essential oils can be a powerful weapon to have in your arsenal against bronchitis symptoms. Peppermint oil and eucalyptus oil seem to have the best impact against bronchitis symptoms. Eucalyptus oil contains high amounts of cineole, which is well known for its anti-inflammatory properties.

Peppermint oil is antimicrobial, which helps to eliminate unnecessary bacteria, but it also generates a cooling sensation which can help to cut through the mucus and allow you to breathe easier. Essential oil can be placed in a diffuser, or you can add a few drops to a humidifier or vaporizer tank.

Final Thoughts

Using natural remedies for bronchitis is a great way to find relief without pumping your body full of medication and ending up zonked-out in bed for day. Everyday life doesn’t pause when we’re feeling poorly, and for many of us, the idea of treating symptoms using natural remedies is appealing because we can still function and complete everyday tasks. As always, consult your doctor before adding something new to your diet/treatment regimen. If you still suffer the symptoms of bronchitis after ten days of treatment, or if the symptoms worsen, it may be necessary to see your doctor to determine if any complications have arisen.

If you are one of the 26 million asthma suffers in America, you're very familiar with the variety of medicine doctors often prescribe to assist with the symptoms. While these drugs do help and provide the user with fast relief, they can be quite expensive.

nine asthma triggers

Due to the overall cost, as well as concern over some chemicals found in asthma medications, many individuals are seeking out natural and holistic methods to treat their asthma. Most often these techniques are used in conjunction with traditional medicines and are showing large-scale success in reducing asthma symptoms.

Here are some great natural alternatives to western medicine to help alleviate those asthma blues and help you breathe easy.

1. Watch What You Eat

One of the main ways you can help prevent asthma flare-ups is by monitoring your diet. Focusing on ingesting foods with higher levels of antioxidants and nutrients will help battle natural irritants and allergens that are often the source of an attack.

Aim for foods that are colorful, like carrots, veggies, leafy greens, tomatoes, and root vegetables. These types of fares, known as carotenoids, contain loads of Vitamin A and Vitamin C. Vitamin A is a key element in battling asthma.

Current studies have shown that those with lower levels of vitamin A often have more frequent, and more severe, asthma attacks. Ensuring your diet is rife with delicious treats containing vitamin D and magnesium along with Vitamin A is essential in battling asthma symptoms.

2. Supplement Your Diet

In addition to keeping a close eye on what you're using to fuel your body, you will also want to add some extra vitamins. Regarding asthma, many attacks are triggered, or more intense, when certain vitamins and minerals are in low supply.

Making sure to add necessary vitamin supplements like Vitamin C, Vitamin B3, and Vitamin B12 will increase the antioxidants in your body and give additional support to your immune system. Don’t forget to pick up some zinc too, as this little mineral helps your body cope with stress.

3. Purify Your Life

Since keeping an eye on your diet to ensure everything going into your body will help soothe your asthma, it only makes sense to make sure everything outside of your body is as pure as possible as well. While you cannot always make sure the air you breathe is free of allergens, you can control the air quality in your own home.

Ensuring a low-level of irritants inside of your home will not only reduce your bouts of asthma, but it will help decrease the amount of dust in your home too. Washing sheets on a weekly basis, vacuuming frequently, and using hypo-allergenic bedding will also help to keep your home free from those pesky irritants.

4. Essential Oils

Whether you're already a supporter of essential oils or not, chances are you've been hearing about them for quite some time. The reason for that is while the concept is simple, the effects are hard to deny. When using these correctly, these tiny oils are mighty and can help boost your immune system, balance hormones, cleanse the air, alleviate migraines, and most importantly, help alleviate asthma symptoms.

Peppermint and eucalyptus are the two scents that will help asthma sufferers the most. These not only help to counteract allergies, but they are also known to help open constricted airways. You can use these scents in a diffuser, or for a more focused application create a scented vapor rub.

5. Relaxation is Key

Life is hectic, and chances are you're almost always in a bit of a hurry or working under a time crunch. While the hustle and bustle are great for accomplishing tasks, it is less than stellar when it comes to keeping your asthma in check. The stress from our daily lives causes asthma to flare up much more often and with more intensity than it would otherwise.

The reason stress causes more attacks, is because stress decreases the function of your immune system. This lowering of protection allows more allergens to work their ways into your system, causing inflammation, which in turn triggers asthma symptoms.

Ensuring you set aside time every day to focus on relaxation will not only do wonders in decreasing the occurrence of your bouts of asthma, but it will also help your health overall. Giving yourself time to decompress daily will assist in maintaining a good blood pressure level, improve digestion, reduce both muscle tension, and decrease levels of chronic pain. So, make sure to take some time each evening to just focus on you.

Final Thoughts

The best way to soothe your asthma is to focus on living a healthy lifestyle. With so many irritants and pollutants in the air, making sure you reduce the number of allergens in your diet and environment is critical in keeping your asthma in check. Not only will focusing on a clean atmosphere, good food, good vitamins and relaxation help control your asthma attacks, but you'll also find it increases your overall health and will make you feel amazing.

There were ten hurricanes and 17 named storms in 2017, making it the most active hurricane season since 2005. Category 4 hurricanes: Harvey, Irma, and Maria, made landfall in the U.S.

truck driving in a hurricane

The devastation trapped and displaced many residents both in the United States and the Caribbean. Thousands of people were without shelter, power, and fresh drinking water.

These catastrophic hurricanes left a path of destruction that may take years of rebuilding. The toll on the survivor’s emotional well-being and overall health can be significant too, especially if they suffer from allergies or live with asthma.

Health officials are warning about the long-term health fallout from this year’s hurricane season.

Severe Weather Patterns Can Heighten Allergic and Asthma Symptoms

Weather patterns influence environmental allergies.

Hurricanes can worsen allergy and asthma symptoms because pollen and mold spores are aerosolized after severe weather. The high winds spread wet mold spores into the air. A lack of air conditioning due to lost power allows, even more, allergens to enter the home.

Debris from trees and plants also become laden with mold and other triggers that can heighten allergic and asthmatic symptoms. Allergic reactions to mold include nasal congestion, coughing, and sneezing. Asthmatics can experience wheezing, tightness in the chest, coughing and difficulty breathing.

Hurricane Harvey drenched Texas and Louisiana with more than 50 inches of rain, and Irma dumped 16 inches in Florida. The moisture left behind in homes and other buildings becomes a breeding ground for mold.

Dr. Rachel Dawkins, a pediatrician at John’s Hopkins All Children’s Hospital, says, “Irma brought the allergy season on a little earlier.” Allergy season usually peaks when the leaves begin to fall in October and November, but the damage caused by the successive hurricanes left many trees on the ground and a lot of mold from standing water.

Post-Hurricane Clean Up Can Adversely Affect Your Health

Residents reclaiming their home want the cleanup process to begin as quickly as possible. This can’t happen without preparation for those with pre-existing conditions, like asthma or COPD, and those who have weak immune systems.

Once the flood water recedes and clean up begins respiratory ailments increase due to mold. Experts coined the expression Katrina Cough after hurricane Katrina hit because residents in New Orleans experienced respiratory issues brought on by mold and dust. The symptoms included a headache, cough, pink eye, nasal congestion, and a sore throat.

How to Clean Up Effectively

Precautions should be taken when cleaning up after a hurricane because it comes with many risks. Mold can begin growing shortly after flooding and can quickly take over a home.

How To Manage Your Allergy or Asthma Symptoms After a Hurricane

asthma inhaler

 

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