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Spring Allergies Can Trigger Asthma

Time your allergy and asthma medications carefully, doctors say.

By Jeanie Lerche Davis
WebMD Feature

Reviewed By Cynthia Haines

Timing is everything -- especially when it comes to seasonal allergy and asthma medications.

What's the best plan of attack? When should we start our allergy or asthma medications? Is it OK to wait until symptoms appear? Or is prevention best?

We took these questions to Paul Enright, MD, moderator of WebMD's Asthma Message Board. His advice:

Time Your Medications

"If you have hay fever -- runny nose, itchy eyes -- it's OK to wait for symptoms to occur before starting allergy medication," Enright tells WebMD.

"But if you know you get asthma seasonally, restart your asthma controller medications about two weeks before the air warms up and grass, weeds, trees start growing," he explains.

Monitor Peak Air Flow

Ask your doctor for a written "asthma action plan" that includes peak air flow monitoring -- an important measure of lung function.

  • Check peak air flow in the early morning, before you use inhalers or drink coffee. Your peak flow is at its worst at that time, because most people are allergic to dust mites in bedding.
  • Check peak air flow later in the day to ensure that medication is helping.
  • Check out the electronic devices, which are just as accurate in measuring peak flow as your doctor's spirometry, and can be purchased for home use.