Coughing and breathing problems in the presence of Dust


Q: Hello.
whilst i was cleaning my vacuum cleaner, I inhaled dust from the vacuum cleaner. Suddenly i began to cough continously for 30 min, with in that time tried to breath in deeply but could not since my chest felt tight and strained ( like my lungs could not expand fully, im not sure why). After 30 minutes i can now breath normally and my cough has gone but i can still feel some mucus build up in the back of my throat.
I do not have any cough infection or flu. I am female healthy individual who exercises ( i breath normally whilst exercising). During spring/summer i have noticed when breathing near blossomed flowers my nose get runny and start sneeze (these symptoms stop after i move away from grass/ flowers). I am severely allergic to fleas, the place where the fleas bite me swells up alot.


A:   Hello,
Thanks for the query.
The problem of cough and difficult breathing on exposure to dust, pollen and fleas, suggest that you have a tendency towards allergic bronchitis. Some individuals are hypersensitive to certain allergens like pollen, perfumes, fleas, pets, fumes and most commonly the dust. Some may even develop symptoms on consuming food which they are allergic to.In most of the cases people are unaware of the allergens they are specifically allergic to and which they have to generally keep away from.
Here are a few tips that you need to practice to deal with the allergy you have.
1.Avoid the allergens which you know you are sensitive to, like dust, pollen, fleas, etc as much as possible. In case you will come in contact with the same, make sure your air passages like nose and mouth are covered and you may wear glasses to the eyes as well to avoid the allergen entering the areas on exposure. Keep yourself fully covered. Wear boots and gloves as well on exposure.
2. In case you pick up an allergy, the symptoms may be sneezing, cough, red and itchy eyes, ears and throat irritation, soon followed by mucoid expectoration from the nose and cough with mucus.It may also be followed by breathing difficulties like wheeze. These are all symptoms of an acute allergic bronchitis.
As soon as you notice the symptoms, you may see a doctor immediately. Antihistamines like Levocitrezene or desloratadine are ideal, if available over the counter. The doctor may also suggest inhalers which you may have to use for a while. One or 2 puffs of salbutamol inhalation will give relief in acute cases, but they may need to be continued for a few months.
3. Include vegetables and fruits rich in vitamins, especially vitamin C.Goose berries, oranges, and lime contain vitamin C which prevents these attacks and boost the immunity. Avoid chilled items and prefer warm fluids and food when you have the cough or any allergic symptoms. Keep yourself warm.
4. You may see a pulmonologist for an examination. You may also need to undergo tests like complete blood counts, Absolute eosinophil count, Ig E tests, skin tests, patch tests and provocation tests are a few tests which can pick up the allergens you are allergic to. Pulmonary function tests may be advised if the doctor feels a need for the same.
5.A course of inhalational steroids and oral steroids may be recommended if the symptoms get severe and are not controlled by other medicines. Do not take any medicines without consulting a doctor as some are contraindicated in pregnancy.
Hope this helped

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