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Hypertension Awareness Month

Hypertension Awareness Month | Dr. Ali Ghahary

Keeping your blood pressure stable is key to having good cardiovascular health. That’s why throughout the month of May, Hypertension Canada is raising awareness about what it means to have high blood pressure, the negative impact that it can have on your health, and what you can do to better manage it.

What is Hypertension?

For those unfamiliar with what hypertension is, it’s the medical term used to describe high blood pressure, and blood pressure is the force in which the blood gets pumped from the heart and against the blood vessels, which makes the flow of blood possible and also delivers oxygen and key nutrients to different tissues and organs throughout or bodies. However, when there’s too much of that pressure within your blood vessels, this is when hypertension occurs. Think of it as being similar to filling a balloon or tires with too much air.

What Causes Hypertension?

There are a number of reasons why one might develop high blood pressure – some of which are beyond your control, such as age and genetics. However, many of common causes of hypertension can actually be controlled. These include lifestyle factors such as unhealthy diet, lack of exercise, obesity, stress, smoking, and excessive alcohol consumption. Certain health conditions, if not managed properly, can also cause high blood pressure. These include sleep apnea, diabetes, and kidney disease.

Symptoms and Risks of High Blood Pressure

If you have high blood pressure, you may notice the following symptoms: Headache, fatigue, confusion, chest pain, irregular heartbeat, difficulty breathing, a pounding sensation in the chest, neck and/or ears, and even blood in the urine. As mentioned, if you have high blood pressure, your cardiovascular health could be in danger. You not only increase your risk of suffering a stroke, heart attack, or even heart failure, but may also develop eye problems, renal disease and erectile dysfunction (in men.)

How Do I Prevent High Blood Pressure and Avoid These Risks?

In order to prevent hypertension and avoid the risks that are associated with high blood pressure, Dr. Ali Ghahary recommends visiting your family physician for regular exams each year. He or she will do a thorough examination which includes checking your blood pressure to make sure it’s at a stable level. If you are someone who is at risk of developing high blood pressure due to lifestyle habits, it’s never a bad idea to see your physician more frequently so that your blood pressure is checked regularly. If you’re unable to book more frequent appointments with your family physician, a physician at a walk-in clinic will also be able to check your blood pressure for you. In fact, Dr. Ghahary is available to see patients at Burnaby’s Brentwood Medical Clinic on a walk-in basis every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. You can find his walk-in schedule by visiting the clinic website at BrentwoodWalk-InClinic.com.
Alternatively, you can also just as easily check your blood pressure at almost any pharmacy, or you can even check your own blood pressure at home by purchasing a blood pressure monitor, which can be fairly inexpensive. You can find a list of blood pressure monitors, as recommended by Hypertension Canada, by clicking here. It’s also worth noting that if you are going to check your own blood pressure, you do the following:

• Don’t smoke or drink caffeinated beverages at least 30 minutes before checking your blood pressure.
• Rest for approximately 5 minutes prior to checking your blood pressure.
• When checking your blood pressure, make sure your feet are on the floor and your arm is at level with your heart.
• Avoid speaking during your blood pressure test.

Following these steps will ensure that your blood pressure reading is as accurate as possible. You can keep track of your blood pressure readings by using this log.

Treating High Blood Pressure

If it is confirmed that you have high blood pressure, you may require medication to help stabilize it. Medications commonly used to treat high blood pressure include diuretics, beta-blockers, ACE inhibitors, ARBs, CCBs, and direct renin inhibitors. It may take several weeks before you notice any changes with your blood pressure levels, and remember, everyone reacts differently to medication, so you should always discuss any concerns you have your side effects experienced with your physician or pharmacist.

Tobacco’s Impact on Your Health

Tobacco’s Impact on Your Health | Dr. Ali Ghahary

This year’s focus of World No Tobacco Day, which takes place at the end of May, will be on the impact that tobacco use has on cardiovascular health. As a family physician, Dr. Ali Ghahary encourages patients to live healthy lifestyles which not only includes healthy eating and getting regular physical activity, but also quitting smoking – because the healthier life you live, the better your quality of life will be.

Smoking Statistics

There are as many as 1 billion smokers worldwide. According to a health survey released by Statistics Canada in 2017, an estimated 17.7 percent (or approximately 5.3 million) of Canadians are smokers, beginning as early as age 12. While smoking rates have been falling steadily in Canada over the last few years, it’s still an urgent problem that needs to be addressed. Smoking kills more than 37,000 Canadians each year. In fact, smoking causes more deaths every year than HIV, illegal drug use, alcohol use, motor vehicle accidents and firearm-related incidents combined.

Smoking and Cancer

While some think that lung cancer is one of the only types of cancer directly caused by smoking, tobacco use can actually cause cancer in any part of your body. This includes bladder cancer, blood cancer, cervix cancer, colon cancer, esophagus cancer, kidney cancer, liver cancer, pancreatic cancer, and stomach cancer.

Smoking and Respiratory Health

Respiratory problems are common among smokers. Common lung diseases that arise include emphysema, chronic bronchitis and COPD – also known as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. Smoking can also trigger asthma, causing symptoms such as shortness of breath, wheezing, and chest tightness or chest pain.

Smoking and Cardiovascular Health

If you’re a smoker, you’re at a very high risk of developing diseases affecting the heart and blood vessels – also known as cardiovascular disease. This includes everything from coronary heart disease and stroke. A stroke occurs when a clot forms and blocks the blood’s flow to the brain, or when a blood vessel bursts in or around the brain. Blockages related to smoking can also reduce the blood flow to your skin and legs. For more information on cardiovascular health, visit the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada.

How to Quit Smoking

While quitting smoking can be challenging, it’s important to ensure your health thrives. Anyone who quits smoking may experience withdrawal symptoms such as irritability, difficulty sleeping and lack of concentration, but it’s important to remember that these symptoms are only temporary. For more helpful smoking cessation tips from Dr. Ali Ghahary, click here.

Home Remedies to Relieve a Sore Throat

Home Remedies to Relieve a Sore Throat | Dr. Ali Ghahary

Sore throats are often the first sign that you’re coming down with something – either a viral or bacterial infection. Following the sore throat are other symptoms, which may include coughing, nasal congestion or runny nose, sneezing, and red or watery eyes. The sore throat, however, can sometimes be the worst symptom experienced and can last as little as three days to one or two weeks depending on the severity and whether it is viral or bacterial related. Generally a viral infection will get better on its own and is just a matter of letting nature take its course, while a bacterial infection is considered much more severe and requires the patient to be on antibiotics. It is important to note that if it is indeed a viral infection, then antibiotics will not relieve symptoms or decrease the length of your illness. Antibiotics should only be taken when a bacterial infection is present. Antibiotic overuse, or taking antibiotics when they aren’t required, can result in antibiotic resistance.

While sore throats are unfortunately a common factor in a cold or flu virus, there are certain home remedies that family physician, Dr. Ali Ghahary, recommends trying. While these remedies won’t necessarily take away the sore throat completely, they can provide you with temporary relief.

Honey
Honey has been used as a remedy for sore throats for many years. In fact, honey is a common ingredient in many throat lozenges due to its proven ability to relieve sore throats and coughs. Honey not only possesses antiseptic, antibacterial and anti-fungal properties to help rid the body of viral infections, but it also contains anti-inflammatory properties that can reduce swelling. If you suffer from a persisting cough that keeps you up at night, a few spoonfuls of pure honey can help suppress it and get you a better night’s rest.

Oil of Oregano
Oil of oregano is a potent herbal antimicrobial that supports the immune system and can combat a variety of infections such as those that are viral, bacterial, yeast, fungal and parasitic related. Similar to honey, it can also reduce inflammation, and has many other healing benefits. In order to reap the full benefits of oil of oregano, it’s recommended that you take it upon the first sign of a sore throat. While the concentration of oil of oregano will vary from brand to brand, it is generally quite potent, therefore it’s recommended that you dilute it in water or mix it with honey or fruit juice. If you can handle the potency, you can also place a few drops underneath the tongue.

Salt Water
Many studies have shown that gargling with salt water can help to relieve a sore throat. Gargling with salt water can help flush out bacteria and other irritants, as well as loosen mucus. Simply mix half a teaspoon of salt in warm water, and do this several times per day.

Tea
Tea, especially chamomile, is commonly used to relieve sore throats thanks to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It can be soothing to the throat, as well as relieve other common symptoms associated with a cold, such as nasal congestion, and can even help you get a better sleep.

Should your sore throat persist or worsen, it’s recommended that you seek the advice of your family physician. If you do not have a family physician, Dr. Ali Ghahary is available to see patients on a walk-in basis at Brentwood Medical Clinic in Burnaby. You can find Dr. Ghahary’s walk-in schedule by visiting brentwoodwalk-inclinic.com

Taking Care of Your Eyesight

Taking Care of Your Eyesight | Dr. Ali Ghahary

As part of the Canadian Association of Optometrists EyeWise campaign, awareness is being raised about the importance of vision health and what you can do to prevent vision loss. As a family physician, Dr. Ali Ghahary recommends patients go for regular eye examinations with their optometrists, as your eye health is just as important as all other aspects of your health.

Why Are Eye Exams Important?

Sight is one of our most important senses. In fact, as much as 80% of what we perceives comes via our sense of sight. With proper eye care and by staying on top of your eye exams, as much as 75% of vision loss can be prevented – and it’s also easier to stay on top of certain eye diseases such as glaucoma and cataracts. In addition, going for regular, comprehensive eye exams can also detect potentially life threatening conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and even brain tumours.

What Are Cataracts?

More than 2.5 million Canadians are estimated to have cataracts and they are the most common cause of vision loss of people over the age of 40. Cataracts are painless, though other symptoms typically include clouding or blurred vision, difficulty with night vision, sensitivity to light, double vision, frequent changing of prescription lenses, and fading or yellowing of colours.

There are three different types of cataracts: Subcapsular, nuclear, and cortical. Subcapsular cataracts occur at the back of the lens and are common in individuals who take high doses of steroid medications or individuals who are diabetic; Nuclear cataracts are commonly associated with aging and form deep in the central zone of the lens – also known as the nucleus; while Cortical cataracts begin in the periphery of the lens and work towards the centre.

Aside from age, you are at risk of developing cataracts if you are frequently exposed to ultraviolet radiation (either from sunlight or other sources), have diabetes, hypertension, are obese, smoke, take hormone replacement therapy, have had previous eye injuries, previous eye surgery, or if there is a history of cataracts in your family.

What is Glaucoma?

Glaucoma is a disease that damages the optic nerve of the eye. Similar to cataracts, glaucoma also typically doesn’t show up until later in life – particularly in those who are elderly. Currently, an estimated 250,000 Canadians have glaucoma and it is the second most common cause of vision loss in seniors today – though with early detection and treatment, this can be prevented.

There are two types of glaucoma: Primary open-angle glaucoma and Angle-closure glaucoma. Primary open-angle glaucoma, which is the most common form, happens gradually as a result of the eye’s inability to drain fluid – similar to that of a clogged drain, for example. As a result, pressure builds in the eye which causes damage to the optic nerve. Primary open-angle glaucoma is generally painless, and you will not notice immediate changes with your sight in its early stages; Angle-closure glaucoma, on the other hand, is considered more severe and happens when the iris becomes too close to the drainage angle, which may wind up causing a blockage. When the drainage angle is blocked, pressure in the eye rises rapidly, which can result in severe eye pain, sudden blurred vision, headache, and even nausea. This is considered an eye emergency and you should see your ophthalmologist right away.

For more information on eye health or to find an optometrist in your area, visit the Canadian Association of Optometrists website at opto.ca.

How to Have a Healthy Mother’s Day

How to Have a Healthy Mother's Day | Dr. Ali Ghahary

Mother’s Day is a time to reflect and celebrate everything our mom’s have done. Whether it’s with flowers, cards, or a large family gathering. Mothers spend much of their time caring for others, so it’s also a good idea to remind them to take care of themselves. Below are just a few tips from Dr. Ali Ghahary to help your mom live her best life ever.

Eat Healthy!

Mothers often tell their kids to eat their fruits and vegetables, but that advice is just as good for them, too. If you’re thinking of buying your mom a box of chocolates as part of her mother’s day gift, try something a little bit different like chocolate covered strawberries, cherries, or whatever her favourite fruit is. That way she’ll still be able to satisfy that sweet tooth but also be getting some essential vitamins and minerals from fruits that are important for maintaining good health. While it’s okay to indulge every once in a while, Dr. Ali Ghahary says patients should make sure to limit their intake of foods and beverages that are high in sugar, salt, and fat.

If your mother is diabetic, a great gift idea is a food subscription box service as several of them offer diabetic-friendly food choices. This gift can be especially great for a busy, working mom, or a retired mom who might not necessarily have the time or energy to go grocery shopping. With a food subscription box service, everything’s hand-picked for you and delivered on a usually weekly basis (depending on what type of service you sign up for); preparation is easy, as is clean-up. For other diabetic-friendly meal ideas to make this Mother’s Day, visit Diabetic Connect.

Stay Fit!

Everyone should strive to stay fit. Keeping physically active, regardless of age, can improve your health in a lot of different ways. If not only promotes weight loss and helps you maintain a healthy weight, but can also combat certain diseases and health conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, as well as decreases the risk of heart attack and stroke. Exercise can also boost the mood, give us more energy, and help us get a better night’s rest.

Physical activity is also a great way for mother’s to spend some quality time with their children and families, and it doesn’t even have to be strenuous. Something as simple as a 30 minute walk around the neighbourhood or at your favourite spot (Vancouver’s Sewall is a great walking place) can do wonders.

Get Pampered!

Lastly, another great way to let mom know you appreciate all she’s done, is to pamper her. A massage might not necessarily be something that a mother would treat herself to, but it’s a perfect gift idea to pamper mom and help her feel relaxed – and can also relieve muscle tension and even reduce stress.

World Lupus Day

World Lupus Day | Dr. Ali Ghahary

Lupus is a serious and oftentimes debilitating autoimmune disease affecting as many as 5 million people worldwide. It can cause damage to the heart, to the kidneys, as well as to any other organ or tissue – from the skin to the joints. While lupus typically impacts more women than it does men, there are no bounds when it come to the disease, as it can affect all genders, ethnicities, and ages. Lupus can be unpredictable and have life-changing consequences, which is why it’s so crucial to learn all you can about it in order to not only prepare yourself, but as well as prepare those around you who either may either be at risk of developing lupus or already have it.

Risk Factors

As mentioned, lupus knows no bounds. There are, however, certain risk factors that can increase your chances of developing lupus, and they are as follows:

Gender: You are more like to get lupus if you are female vs. male.
Age: Lupus typically occurs in individuals between the ages of 15 and 44.
Family History: You are 13% more likely to develop lupus if you are a relative of someone who already has (or has had) lupus.
Race/Ethnicity: Lupus is more common in African Americans, Asian Americans, Native Americans, Native Hawaiians, Pacific Islanders, and Hispanics/Latinos.

Symptoms of Lupus

Symptoms of lupus vary from person to person. What might affect one individual may not affect another individual at all. However, some of the most common symptoms include:

• Joint pain
• Swelling and redness of the joints
• Weight gain
• Red/scaly rashes
• A rash across the cheeks and bridge of the nose
• Sores inside the mouth
• Extreme fatigue
• Unusual reaction to sunlight
• Abnormalities in blood chemistry
• Severe psychological symptoms
• Seizures

These symptoms can be chronic or acute. In cases where they’re chronic, they are long-lasting, while an acute phase means the symptoms will only be present for a short amount of time – also known as a flare-up.

Treating Lupus

While there’s no cure for lupus, the treatment methods chosen are done to relieve symptoms associated with the autoimmune disease, and also depends on the severity of those symptoms. Medications commonly used to relieve symptoms of lupus include anti-inflammatories (such as NSAIDs) and steroids, though it’s also important to be aware that these medications have side effects, especially when used long-term. For information about long-term use of NSAIDs, click here.

Find out more information about lupus by visiting WorldLupusDay.org

What is Schizophrenia?

What is Schizophrenia? | Dr. Ali Ghahary

Defining Schizophrenia

While all mental illnesses should be given the same amount of attention that you would all other aspects of your health, schizophrenia is one of the more common, complex, and most serious psychiatric disorder that one can be diagnosed with. While the exact cause of schizophrenia remains unknown, it is believed that it may be a combination of a biochemical imbalance as well as the substances through which our cells communicate – also known as neurotransmitters. The areas of the brain that are often affected by schizophrenia include the limbic system and the thalamus. The limbic system deals with three key functions: emotions, memories and arousal/stimulation; while the thalamus is responsible for coordinating outgoing messages, such as sensory and motor signal relay, as well as the regulation of consciousness and sleep.

How Society Views Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia is one of the most misunderstood mental illnesses, and there are a lot of myths and misconceptions that surround it…the most common being that people often think someone diagnosed with schizophrenia has split personalities – also known as multiple personality disorder. However, MPD is an entirely unrelated mental illness and has nothing to do with schizophrenia.

Another common misconception about individuals diagnosed with mental illness is that they are dangerous and/or can become violent. While individuals with schizophrenia can be unpredictable at times, most of those diagnosed with this condition are not violent. If violence does occur, chances are they have another underlying condition that has not yet been treated – for example, childhood trauma or substance abuse problems.

Society also often thinks that someone with schizophrenia cannot recover from it; and while it is a difficult mental illness to treat, it’s not entirely impossible. With the right medication and therapy, as many as 25% of those diagnosed with schizophrenia will recover completely, while 50% will notice a significant improvement in their symptoms and can continue to lead full, productive lives.

Symptoms of Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia can have a gradual or sudden onset. Early warning signs may include things such as withdrawal from activities and personal relationships, irrational/angry/fearful responses to friends and family members, inappropriate language, deterioration in things like work as well as personal hygiene, difficulty concentrating or controlling thoughts, feeling as though you’re being watched, seeing things that aren’t there, hearing voices, mood swings, and anxiety. Initially, these symptoms may be mild, but can become more severe as the condition progresses and/or remains untreated.
Treating Schizophrenia

If a patient has been diagnosed with schizophrenia, they will be prescribed antipsychotic medications to help control symptoms such as irrational thinking, hallucinations and delusions. It’s important that these medications are taken not only correctly, but regularly, in order for them to work.

In addition to medication, Dr. Ali Ghahary also recommends finding a counsellor so that they can help you cope with any stress in your life, as stress can actually aggravate the symptoms of schizophrenia. In addition, a counsellor can also teach you ways to better your social relationships and remain successful, and helping you to be able to live as independently as possible.

Fibromyalgia Awareness Month

Fibromyalgia Awareness Month | Dr. Ali Ghahary

In recognition of Fibromyalgia Awareness Month, family physician Dr. Ali Ghahary has put together information on this chronic disorder – including who it affects, how it affects them, the most common symptoms, and the treatment options that are available.

As mentioned, fibromyalgia is a chronic condition, and is characterized as pain and/or tenderness throughout the body. In many cases, the cause if fibromyalgia is unknown, though in some instances it can be triggered after a traumatic event – such as emotional trauma, hormonal imbalances, sexual or physical abuse, viral diseases, and car accidents. That being said, because so little is known about what, exactly, causes fibromyalgia, it is often misdiagnosed or undiagnosed all together. Because of the lack of information out there, patients with fibromyalgia may sometimes feel like their symptoms are all in their head, but it is a very real condition that can have a very real impact on one’s daily life. As many as 90 percent of fibromyalgia cases are diagnosed in women, though it can also affect men.

There is a long list of symptoms that are attributed to fibromyalgia, but the most common are as follows:

• Chronic widespread, unexplained pain
• Sleep disturbances
• Cognitive dysfunction
• Fatigue that is chronic/constant
• Depression and/or irritability
• Muscle spasms and/or cramping
• Headaches and/or migraines
• Balance problems
• Digestive problems
• Temperature sensitivities
• Itching and/or tingling sensation
• Frequent bowel movements (IBS)
• Frequent urination

Certain foods may also trigger your fibromyalgia pain, so Dr. Ali Ghahary recommends making sure you have a healthy diet. This means limit your sugar intake, avoid caffeine, and cut down on your carbohydrates.

Because some of these fibromyalgia symptoms can mimic those of other diseases or disorders, your doctor may seek to send you for additional testing just to make sure there are no other serious underlying medical conditions going on. Once that possibility has been completely eliminated, diagnosing fibromyalgia is based on the following: Generalized pain that lasts longer than 3 months, as well as pain when a certain amount of pressure is applied to at least 11 of the 18 tender points on the body.

Once you have a confirmed diagnosis of fibromyalgia, you will need to treat the symptoms. This includes intervention from your healthcare team, as well as self-care by making certain changes to your lifestyle and home. Eating healthy, as mentioned, as well as reducing stress, making sure you’re getting enough rest, enough exercise, but also being sure to pace yourself. Certain medications such as over-the-counter pain relievers, antidepressants and anti-seizure drugs are also commonly used to treat fibromyalgia. Patients may also benefit from physical and occupational therapy.

Mental Health Week

#GetLoud for Mental Health Week | Dr. Ali Ghahary

“Mental Health” is a broad term that is used to describe a wide range of different psychological conditions. However, the term is also about much more than mental illness. It’s also about how you feel – whether you’re happy or sad, feeling good about who you are, and how you manage the highs and lows that come with life.

Because mental illness is so common and widespread (with over 200 classified forms), Dr. Ali Ghahary, a family physician from Vancouver, says it’s important to know the warning signs that are associated with mental illness. However, those warning signs may differ depending on the age of the individual. For example, younger children may experience changes in school performance (i.e. poor grades), changes in their sleeping and/or eating habits, have frequent temper tantrums, excessive worry, anxiety, hyperactivity, aggression, and even hyperactivity. In older children and teenagers there may be defiance of authority, frequent outbursts of anger, a prolonged negative mood, an inability to cope with problems and daily activities, as well as substance use. Young adults and adults may have confused thoughts, prolonged depression, irritability, social withdrawal, hallucinations, delusions, unexplained physical ailments, and suicidal thoughts.

Whether you experience any of the aforementioned symptoms/warning signs or not, it’s never a bad idea to check in on your own mental health, as this is a good way to not only support it, but make improvements if necessary. For example, ask yourself the following:

• Am I optimistic about my future?
• Do I feel good about myself?
• Do I enjoy life?
• Do I get along with others/have good social interactions?
• Do I have a good support system around me?
• Am I reaching my full potential?
• Do I feel confident?

If your answer is “yes” to the majority of these questions, then these are signs of good mental health. However, if your answer is “no”, it wouldn’t hurt to discuss how you’re feeling with someone you trust – whether it’s a friend, family member, or a physician. This is also why, from May 7th, to 13th, the Canadian Mental Health Association is asking individuals to #GetLoud about mental health and talk about what it means to them. Having this discussion is also a good way to reduce the stigma that is so often associated with mental illness. Since Mental Health Week first began in 1951, 57% of Canadians say that they believe the stigma associated with mental illness have been reduced, while 70% say they believe the attitude towards mental health issues has changed for the better compared to 5 years ago.

We all have good and bad mental health days, but it’s important to keep the good days coming. In order to do this, some strategies that Dr. Ali Ghahary and the Canadian Mental Health Association recommend trying include connecting with friends and family (i.e. going for coffee, grabbing lunch, or even sending them an e-mail), as well as staying active (physical activity has been show to improve mental health.)

For more on Mental Health Week, visit mentalhealthweek.ca or search the hashtag #GetLoud on social media.
For more mental health related articles from Dr. Ali Ghahary, click here!

Asthma Awareness Month

Asthma Awareness Month | Dr. Ali Ghahary
Corticosteroid inhalers are commonly used to treat asthma by reducing inflammation. | Dr. Ali Ghahary

Asthma is a respiratory condition affecting the lungs, and is defined as chronic inflammation of the airway which causes difficulty breathing. To date, an estimated 3 million Canadians suffer from asthma.

Who Gets Asthma?

While asthma is more common in childhood (with approximately 600,000 children under the age of 12 being diagnosed, making it one of the most common chronic diseases in children today), it’s also not uncommon for adults over the age of 50 to be diagnosed. This is known as adult-onset asthma. While it’s still the same disease in children and adults, it tends to act slightly different depending on the age of the patient, which may result in different strategies as far as treatment.

When it comes to the similarities, children and adults with asthma will often experience much of the same symptoms, such as shortness of breath, frequent coughing, wheezing, congestion, increased mucus secretion, and a feeling of pressure/tightness in the chest. It’s also not uncommon for both children and adults to panic when they are having an asthma attack.

Unfortunately, diagnosing childhood and adult-onset asthma can sometimes be tricky as it’s not always immediately recognized as being asthma. Symptoms can also be hard to identify, particularly in babies due to underdeveloped bronchial tubes (which can not only become inflamed as a result of asthma, but also from the cold or flu); while adults tend to shrug off their symptoms as allergies or a persisting cold that they can’t seem to shake, without even realizing that asthma may be the culprit.

What Triggers Asthma?

Asthma has a wide range of triggers. Below is a list of some of the most common:

• Respiratory infections
• Pet dander
• Pollen
• Dust
• Smoke
• Mold and/or mildew
• Physical activity

In order to prevent an asthma attack from happening, the best thing to do is to avoid these triggers. For example, if your asthma is triggered by pollen, it’s recommended that you stay indoors as much as possible – especially during peak pollen times. You can find your local peak pollen times via The Weather Network’s Pollen Report. If you have air conditioning, use it rather than leaving your windows and doors open. AC reduces indoor air pollutants like pollen, as well as lowers the humidity in your home which reduces your risk of being exposed to things like dust mites, and therefore reduces your risk of having an asthma attack/flare-up.

As mentioned, another common cause of asthma is pet dander, especially in those who are allergic to them. Proteins found in an animal’s skin, hair, saliva, urine and feces can also trigger asthma. The best way to avoid a flare-up that is caused by these triggers if to avoid animals all together. However, if you have a family pet, you may not be ready to part ways with them. If that’s the case, make sure you keep animals out of your bedroom and off furniture. If you have an indoor pet, make sure they are bathed frequently.

When it comes to things like smoke and dust, these aren’t always easily avoidable. Smoke, especially, as it can be caused from things like forest fires and tobacco use. If you happen to be a cigarette smoker, you will need to quit. If you’re around second-hand smoke, avoid it whenever possible. This will not only reduce your asthma attacks, but also decrease your risk of other respiratory related illness such as COPD and lung cancer.

How is Asthma Treated?

Asthma treatment is dependent on a patient’s symptoms, though inhaled corticosteroids are the most common form of treatment. An inhaled corticosteroid is typically used every day and helps to reduce inflammation in the airways. It’s also not uncommon for them to be combined with other inhalers, such as Ventolin or Symbicort.

For more information, visit Asthma.ca