Coping With Asthma and Heat
You probably know the major asthma triggers well — tobacco smoke, pollen, extreme exercise, pet dander — but there are others that lie in wait for the warmer months.
New allergens and irritants can begin to bother you as the weather warms, and both heat and humidity have been found to trigger asthma episodes, too. Research shows that extreme temperature (over 100 degrees Fahrenheit) can bring on symptoms, and since humid air is more difficult to breathe, it can strain the lungs and airways even more.
If you live in a hot and humid place, the key to surviving asthma and heat during the summer season is to spot the less obvious triggers and learn how to keep them at arm’s length.
How Hot Weather Breeds Asthma Triggers
When heat and humidity combine, less air can be taken into the lungs, and that could lead to a lot of discomfort. But other things can tag along with the weather, triggers that can cause both allergic asthma reactions and systemic reactions (known as intrinsic asthma).
Keep an eye out for these common hot weather asthma irritants, so you can limit your chances of an attack:
Cities can become pockets of pollution in the summer, with irritating smog rising up and hovering for days. It should come as no surprise that the cloudy gray air contains a lot of irritants, and breathing it in for even a short amount of time can cause trouble for asthmatics.
Track the air quality with a reputed weather website or program, and don’t wait for the smog to hit hazardous levels to retreat indoors; your breathing will likely begin to suffer well before the rest of population feels the effects.
When the temperature soars, your body may not be able to cool itself fast enough to stay in a healthy zone. This condition is known as heat stress, and it can lead to a bumpy rash, cramps, dizziness, heat stroke and a worsening of existing medical conditions – including asthma.
You may find that your airways begin to constrict, and as the body struggles to cool itself, the demand for oxygen goes up, which stresses your lungs even more.
You may associate mold with dark, damp basements, but it can hide out almost anywhere with enough heat and humidity. Summer brings an inevitable increase in mold, especially in the nooks and crannies around the outside of your house, cottage, or shed. Old leaf piles and compost can be a hotbed for spores, so be careful working or playing around those areas.
Cigarettes aren’t the only smoky irritant out there. With summer comes campfires and barbecues, both of which release thick, toxic fumes into your breathing space. Also, wildfires tend to spring up suddenly in some areas, and the smoke and particles can travel very far, depending on the wind patterns. Try to keep in mind these sources of fire, and duck inside if you notice a change in the air quality.
Many people get more active when the warm, sunny weather begins, and that’s generally fine. However, you may have to limit your strenuous exercise, or take your workout to an air-conditioned gym to avoid an unpleasant episode outside. If you exercise outdoors, be sure to bring along your rescue medication each and every time.
Next Page: Sidestepping Summer Breathing Trouble