Start the New Year Safely
The promise of what’s to come. As the calendar turns to January, people across the country look ahead at the coming year, with 25% of Americans making new year’s resolutions.
The most popular resolution – to start living healthier. For the millions of people living in the United States that suffer from allergies and asthma, that includes improving their quality of life through managing symptoms and limiting triggers.
Get a jumpstart on breathing better with this checklist to help you stay safe in the year ahead.
Make Sure Your Medical Information is up to Date
The start of the new year is the perfect time to make sure that all of your medical information is up to date. Most doctor’s offices update records yearly, and getting ahead of any changes at the beginning of the year will help you save time at future appointments. Two other action items for a January checklist include:
- Find out if your medicines are still covered on your prescription plan. Healthcare providers typically update the list of medications they cover each year. If your medication is no longer covered, inform your doctor immediately.
- Update your insurance with the pharmacy. Just like updating your insurance with your doctor’s office, you should make sure that your insurance on file with the pharmacy is up to date as well. Calling or scheduling an appointment with your pharmacist in January helps to ensure there is no delay in filling needed medications.
Prepare for Winter Weather
According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA), 25 million people in the U.S. have asthma. Those that suffer can develop symptoms in response to exercise, especially in cold air. The AAFA suggests that you familiarize yourself with cold weather exercise tips to minimize the chances of an attack, such as using a quick-relief inhaler 15 to 20 minutes prior to exercise, wearing a protective layer over your mouth to help warm and humidify the air, and ensuring a good warm-up and cool-down routine. You may also want to consider skipping exercise when you have a viral infection.
A pair of other suggestions for preparing for the cold weather are:
- Protect your medicines from the cold. Cold weather can make medications such as epinephrine and asthma inhalers less effective so you should never leave them in a cold car.
- Make sure you’re ready for an emergency. If you live in an area that is prone to severe weather or power outages, take some time at the beginning of the year to come up with an emergency plan and stock necessary supplies.
Attack Allergens Around the House
Worsening weather in the winter months means more time indoors. And increased time spent inside can directly impact the air quality in your home. Maintaining good air quality is a crucial part of allergy and asthma management, so start the new year with with some of these suggestions for reducing potential triggers around the house:
- Remove dust from ceiling fans, surfaces, and electronics with a microfiber cloth
- Wipe down the tops of cabinets and vent hoods with warm, soapy water
- Move stuffed toys in the bedrooms and place them up high and away from the sleeping area. Or better yet, remove them from the bedroom completely and into a plastic bin
- Replace HVAC filters and use a filter that has a MERV rating of 11 to 13
- Check for signs of moisture or dampness on walls and windows
Medically Reviewed By: Amy Parker, MD
Reviewed on: Dec. 26, 2022
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