If your New Year's resolution is to keep your allergy and asthma symptoms under control in 2022, it's best to do so in small steps, an expert says.
"The best way to tackle health challenges is in small bits, and that goes for allergy and asthma control," said Dr. Mark Corbett, president of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI).
"The last few years have been hard on everyone, but you still want to figure out ways to improve your health routine," he said in an ACAAI news release. "Making small, manageable adjustments is a great start to getting on a healthier path and seeing improvements in controlling allergy and asthma flares."
Quitting smoking and making your house smoke-free should be on the top of your list if you or your children have asthma, he advised.
Secondhand smoke is particularly harmful to children's lungs. Research shows that children with asthma who are exposed to secondhand smoke at home are nearly twice as likely to be hospitalized than children with asthma without exposure to secondhand smoke.
It's also important to do all you can to protect yourself against COVID-19 because people with asthma and other respiratory conditions are at increased risk for severe illness. Get vaccinated, get a booster shot, wear a mask and social distance.
Getting a flu shot should also be on your list, Corbett said.
It's also important to monitor your mental health, he noted. Good emotional health benefits your physical health. Research shows that stress can cause more symptoms for allergy and asthma sufferers.
To combat stress, try calming techniques. Download a meditation or relaxation app to use at night before bed, listen to soothing music and do activities that you enjoy, Corbett suggested.
Healthy eating is also crucial. If you have food allergies, you know you have to watch what you eat. If you or your children have food allergies, always carry two epinephrine auto-injectors and make sure they're up to date. These disposable, pre-filled auto-injectors ("EpiPens") are used to treat life-threatening, allergic emergencies in those at risk.
Teens and college students 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 their effort to avoid allergens, Corbett advised.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers holiday health tips.
SOURCE: American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, news release, Dec. 17, 2021