Controlling Asthma During Spring

Controlling Asthma During Spring

The birds are chirping, the flowers are blooming … and pollen is filling the air.

While springtime is a season of rejuvenation, it also brings about a spike in asthma attacks, especially when pollen counts reach high levels.

Cause of Springtime Asthma Attacks

When flowers, weeds, trees, grass and other plants bloom in springtime, they release pollen into the air. Seasonal pollen can result in airway inflammation, which worsens underlying asthma conditions.

Ways to Prevent an Asthma Attack

The best way to keep asthma under control is by taking your asthma medications as prescribed by your doctor.

If you have asthma, you are likely familiar with an inhaler. Your doctor may also prescribe quick-relief medicine for flare-ups. Always make sure your asthma medications are on-hand and that they are filled before they run out.

For asthma sufferers who exercise outside, your doctor may recommend taking an antihistamine (like Claritin or Zyrtec) and/or two puffs from a short-acting emergency inhaler prior to outdoor activity.

Immunotherapy shots are another option suitable for some patients. Administered regularly over a period of time, immunotherapy shots can reduce the body’s reaction to allergens.

Here are additional tips to help control your asthma during spring:

  • Get tested for allergies. According to a study published in the journal of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, nearly two-thirds of people with asthma also suffer from allergies. An allergy test can help you learn the triggers you should avoid.
  • Stay indoors in the morning. If possible, avoid the outdoors between 5 a.m. and 10 a.m. when pollen levels are at their highest. Check the pollen count in your area daily.
  • Wash off the pollen. Shower and wash your clothes after being outside. Pollen sticks to your body and can be transferred to household surfaces.
  • Shut the windows. Keep your home and car windows closed. It’s better to use air conditioning instead. In your car, set the air flow to recirculate so outside air isn’t introduced.
  • Avoid outside chores. If you can, get someone else to do your yard work and gardening. If you must do it yourself, wear a mask. Also, keep your grass short or opt for ground cover that doesn’t produce much pollen such as Irish moss.
  • Use the dryer. Dry your sheets and clothes indoors rather than on an outdoor clothesline.

The doctors at PCCMA evaluate and treat asthma, as well as other breathing problems. If you are concerned about asthma or are experiencing symptoms, schedule an appointment.

What is Oxygen Therapy?

Oxygen Therapy

Oxygen therapy, also known as supplemental oxygen, is the use of oxygen as a medical treatment.

Oxygen is used to treat hypoxia (deficiency in the amount of oxygen reaching body tissues) or hypoxemia (an abnormally low concentration of oxygen in the blood).

Hypoxia and hypoxemia can be the result of a wide range of conditions including:

  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • Asthma
  • Pneumonia
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Sleep apnea
  • Pulmonary fibrosis
  • Severe asthma
  • Lung disease
  • Trauma to the respiratory system

Oxygen therapy is commonly administered in a hospital setting; however, the therapy also can be used at home. The treatment is usually delivered through a nasal prong device, called a nasal cannula, or a face mask.

Types of Oxygen Therapy

There are three common systems used for at-home oxygen therapy:

  • Compressed oxygen. This system uses oxygen stored under pressure in a metal cylinder. This is what most people think of when they hear “oxygen therapy.”
  • Liquid system. This system uses a combination of a bulk reservoir, stored in a permanent location, and a portable unit for convenience. A liquid system uses no electricity and the portable unit is smaller and lighter than a compressed oxygen unit.
  • Oxygen concentrators. This system works like an air conditioner. It removes air from the home environment but, instead of making that air cooler, it takes oxygen from the air and delivers that oxygen to patients.

A doctor will recommend the best type of oxygen therapy system based on a patient’s diagnosis and lifestyle.


While oxygen therapy isn’t a treatment that can cure a medical condition, it can help improve symptoms, organ function and quality of life. Specifically, it has the potential to alleviate shortness of breath, reduce fatigue caused by low blood oxygen levels and improve sleep.

Side Effects

During oxygen therapy, patients may experience side effects from the treatment such as a dry or bloody nose, tiredness and morning headaches.

Oxygen therapy is generally safe and most patients find that any side effects are well worth the benefits of treatment.


Oxygen is non-flammable, but oxygen therapy systems may pose a combustion risk. Patients should never use flammable materials during oxygen therapy.

Patients using oxygen therapy also should take precautions when traveling. Contact airlines, buses and cruise ships well in advance to alert them of your oxygen therapy. When traveling via car, keep air flowing. If using compressed oxygen, keep the oxygen tank upright on the floor.

Detecting and Treating Lung Cancer

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in the United States. Lung cancer is most often caused by cigarette smoke, but it also can be caused by other environmental factors.

The two most common types of lung cancer are small-cell lung cancer and non-small cell lung cancer. Non-small cell lung cancer is the more common type, accounting for 85% of lung cancers. Doctors differentiate between these types of cancer by studying lung cells at a microscopic level.

A patient’s medical history and symptoms, along with findings from a physical exam, will determine how his or her cancer is diagnosed, while results of diagnostic tests will determine the stage of the cancer and treatment options.



Early detection can significantly improve the ability to successfully treat lung cancer.

A screening test for lung cancer is performed before a patient has any symptoms that indicate cancer is present. When abnormalities are found early on a screening test, the cancer can be easier to treat.

The main screening test to detect lung cancer is a low-dose CT scan. If a screening test discovers an abnormality, the next step is a diagnostic test.

A diagnostic test is used to determine if abnormality in the screening test is cancerous. The test involves taking and studying sample tissue or fluid from around the lung.

If a diagnostic test reveals cancerous cells, a staging test is conducted. A staging test determines the state of the cancer based on where the cancer cells are located, the growth of the cancerous tissue (e.g. the size of the tumor) and whether the cancer has spread elsewhere in the body.

For non-small cell lung cancer, there are four stages with stage one being the earliest and stage four being the most advanced. There are two stages of small cell lung cancer; a limited stage and extensive stage. Lung cancer diagnosis is largely based on how far the cancer has spread.



Methods to treat lung cancer include surgery, radiation, radiofrequency ablation, chemotherapy, targeted treatments and immunotherapy. These methods can be used alone or in combination.

The type of treatment a doctor recommends will depend on the patient’s type and stage of cancer. Possible side effects also are taking into consideration.



PCCMA, Central Pennsylvania’s largest independent pulmonary practice group, performs screenings to detect lung cancer and other lung diseases.

To request an appointment, or a consultation for a second opinion, please complete this online appointment form or call us at (717) 234-2561.

Sleep Study: A Simple Exam Can Lead to a Better Night’s Sleep

PCCMA’s sleep labs have the comforts of a hotel room.

If you are having sleep-related problems, your doctor may recommend that you participate in a sleep study.

Diagnosing and treating difficulties with sleep is important because, left untreated, they can lead to other conditions such as high blood pressure, heart disease and depression.

Continue reading “Sleep Study: A Simple Exam Can Lead to a Better Night’s Sleep”

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