Sidestepping Summer Breathing Trouble
The best way to keep your breathing under control is to set some smart limits: limit heat, limit humidity and limit exposure. Luckily, there are plenty of tools and methods at your disposal, so it shouldn’t be too difficult to stay cool.
Control Your Inside Air
Air-conditioning and de-humidifiers can both be of service in the summer, but the key is to use them wisely. Extra cold, dry air can trigger an asthma attack just as easily as humidity can, so use the air-conditioning as often as you need it, but keep the temperature just cool enough to get relief.
Similarly, set your de-humidifier to keep the humidity between 35% and 50%, so you don’t dry out your airways. It’s important to keep both systems free of buildup: have a professional clean your air vents every year, and inspect your de-humidifier regularly for mold and mildew.
Limit Your Exertion
Rapidly breathing in air dries out the airway, and once the mucus membranes in your airways begin to dry out, allergens can invade. In turn, your body will release histamines that can increase inflammation in your airways.
Invest in a heart rate monitor if you have trouble controlling your pace when exercising or walking around. Alternatively, you can simply keep your mouth closed – If you can keep breathing through your nose, you’re probably at a safe level of exertion.
Stay Vigilant With Hand Washing
Illness and viral infections are among the most common triggers of an asthma attack, and although lots of people associate sickness with cold, wet weather, that’s a misconception. True, many viruses and bacteria can survive better in colder conditions, but plenty of pathogens are passed around in the summer months, and as always, poor hand washing habits are often to blame.
Wash your hands with soap and water as often as you would in “cold and flu season”, especially after handling pets or chemical irritants, like bug spray.
Commit to Taking Your Medication
You should always have your rescue inhaler in case of emergency, but your daily preventative medication is what will keep you out of trouble. Keep taking your prescribed inhaler as your doctor has recommended, and have some backup medication with you if you go on vacation.
Since summertime can be full of distractions, it may be a good idea to keep your daily inhaler in plain sight so you don’t forget about it. Try placing it beside your toothbrush, so you remember to use it when you brush your teeth in the morning.
Planning and preparation can have a big impact on asthma management, so plan around the hottest, most humid parts of the day. Run most of your errands in the morning if you can, and try to stay in the shade or inside during the hottest hours of the day (usually from about 11 to 3). Swimming is great for keeping cool, active, and relaxed, which makes it an ideal way for you to enjoy the long, warm summer days.