May 2019 - Asthma Awareness Month    
A Message from Your Hometown Health Manager
The Invitational Steps Wellness Challenge has officially come to a close! We had 46 teams across the state reach a total of 53.2 MILLION steps -- way to go everyone! That’s an average of 236,445 steps per participant throughout the five-week challenge period.

Although the challenge is over, continue to strive toward 10,000 steps a day. Walking has been shown to have many health benefits, including improving sleep, reducing stress, slowing mental decline, improving endurance and improving mood!

Speaking of steps, on Thursday, April 18, League employees came together from both of our offices (Tallahassee and Orlando) to participate in the annual IOA Corporate 5K in downtown Orlando! We are fully committed to making health and wellness a priority in our workplace culture! Check out our team photo below.
All the Best,

Gwen Mahabir
Asthma Basics: What to Know
If you have asthma, you need to know how to take care of your condition. Here is some information and tips that may help:

What is asthma?
Asthma is a chronic lung disease that affects children and adults. Certain triggers — often an irritant or allergen — affect the airways leading to the lungs. In response, the lining of the airways swells and excess mucus can build up. This chain of events can severely restrict airflow.

What are the symptoms?
If you have asthma, you may have one or more of these symptoms:
  • Coughing, which may be worse at night or early in the morning
  • Wheezing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Feeling a tightness in the chest

Who’s most at risk?
Anyone can develop asthma. But it tends to run in families. People who have allergies are also at increased risk of having it.

What tends to bring on asthma symptoms?
Some of the most common triggers are:
  • Allergens, such as dust mites, cockroaches, pet dander, mold and pollen
  • Weather — dry wind, cold air or sudden changes, for example
  • Physical activity that makes you breathe harder — especially in cold air
  • Airborne irritants such as chemical fumes, air pollution, and tobacco or wood smoke
  • Respiratory illnesses, such as colds

Five Steps to Help Take Control of Asthma
You’re in the driver’s seat when it comes to managing your asthma. Follow these five steps to help keep your asthma under control.

1. Partner with your doctor
Work closely with your doctor and any other medical staff. For example, they can:
  • Help you develop a written asthma action plan
  • Suggest ways to help you avoid your asthma triggers
  • Show you how to use a peak flow meter to monitor your asthma
  • Make sure you know when and how to use an inhaler correctly
 
2. Learn your asthma triggers
Your asthma triggers may be different from someone else’s. So be familiar with what tends to make your symptoms worse. Once you know your triggers, talk to your doctor about how best to avoid or manage them. Some common culprits may include:   

Allergens.  These can cause an allergic reaction. And in some people, they can also trigger asthma symptoms. Common allergens may include:
  • Pollen — from trees, grasses, weeds, etc.
  • Animal dander, dust mites and cockroaches
  • Outdoor and indoor molds

Irritants.  These are substances you breathe in that can irritate your lungs. Common irritants may include:
  • Tobacco and wood smoke
  • Air pollution
  • Chemical fumes

Exercise-Induced Asthma
What Is Exercise-Induced Asthma?
Like it sounds, exercise-induced asthma is asthma that is triggered by vigorous or prolonged exercise or physical exertion. Most people with chronic asthma experience symptoms of asthma during exercise. However, there are many people without chronic asthma who develop symptoms only during exercise.

Why Does Exercise Induce Asthma?
During normal breathing, the air we take in is first warmed and moistened by the nasal passages. Because people tend to breathe through their mouths when they exercise, they are inhaling colder and drier air.
In exercise-induced asthma, the muscle bands around the airways are sensitive to these changes in temperature and humidity and react by contracting, which narrows the airway. This results in symptoms of exercise-induced asthma, which include:

  • Coughing with asthma
  • Tightening of the chest
  • Wheezing
  • Unusual fatigue while exercising
  • Shortness of breath when exercising

The symptoms of exercise-induced asthma generally begin within 5 to 20 minutes after the start of exercise, or 5 to 10 minutes after brief exercise has stopped. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms with exercise, inform your doctor.

Asthma and Diet
There’s no special asthma diet. We don’t know of any foods that reduce the airway inflammation of asthma. Beverages that contain caffeine provide a slight amount of bronchodilation for an hour or two, but taking a rescue inhaler is much more effective for the temporary relief of asthma symptoms.

However, a good diet is an important part of your overall asthma treatment plan. Just like regular exercise, a healthy diet is good for everyone. That goes for people with asthma, too. Obesity is associated with more severe asthma, so you want to take steps to maintain a healthy weight.

What’s more, many doctors suspect that the specific foods you eat  might have a direct impact on your asthma. But further research needs to be done before we understand the exact connection between asthma and diet. If you are allergic to certain foods, you should avoid them. Allergies can trigger asthma symptoms.

Asthma and Nutrition
The incidence of asthma has risen in the United States during the past three decades, and many researchers believe that our changing diets have something to do with it. As Americans eat fewer and fewer fruits and vegetables and more processed foods, could it be that we’re bumping up our risk of developing asthma? Several research studies have suggested this, and others are ongoing, but the connection between diet and asthma remains inconclusive.

Florida League of Cities | www.floridaleagueofcities.com | 850.222.9684