Summer is here and asthma triggers like heat, pollens, and molds are higher. But so are some less familiar triggers–weather changes (especially in humid regions), pollution (more people driving), or possible smoke from wildfires. People also tend to be more active in the summer, especially children, which can prompt breathing problems. Here are some ways to reduce the risk of asthma attacks this summer.
See the Doc
First, if you have already experienced increased asthma-related health symptoms, see your doctor, allergist, or whoever is helping you manage your asthma. It may be that an adjustment in your medication is needed.
Obey the Doc
Even if you aren’t having symptoms, asthma doesn’t take a summer vacation. it’s important that people who have asthma continue to take all their asthma medications as prescribed over the summer, even if they don’t have symptoms. It’s the best way to prevent asthma symptoms from starting and curbing a possible asthma attack.
Make a Plan
If you haven’t already done so, make an asthma plan. Develop a plan with the help of your doctor for how to react to asthma symptoms quickly, before they spiral out of control. Learn to recognize the flare-up before it happens.
Try not put yourself in situations where you (or your children) would have to inhale very hot air. This may be tough if you have a job or your child plays a sport that requires outdoor activity in the heat, but consider asking for another task assignment if it’s possible to spend the hottest days or the hottest parts of the day in an air-conditioned space.
The combination of heat and humidity creates a fertile breeding ground for allergens such as dust mites, which thrive in humid air, and mold. These allergens also worsen the impact of environmental pollutants, such as exhaust fumes and smog.
Check Air Quality
Local conditions play a large role in asthma symptoms. Most newspapers, municipal websites, and news websites publish daily air quality conditions called an Air Quality Index. Some communities issue Air Quality Alerts to warn at-risk people to stay indoors. Learn what thresholds of air quality put you at risk of elevated asthma symptoms. For indoor air quality, keep your windows shut (in the car and at home), use the air conditioning, and replace your filters regularly.
Exercise is important for everyone, and people with asthma are no exception. But it is important to know when it might do more harm than good. Be smart when you exercise. Carry your inhaler with you during runs, workouts, and team practices. Avoid exercising outdoors on poor air quality days.
Summer is vacation time, of course, for adults and children. If your child is going to camp (day or overnight), inform the leaders about your child’s asthma, their triggers, and your asthma plan along with any asthma medications. If you’re travelling across country or just for an overnight, make sure all asthma medications are packed, inhalers are full (check the expiration date), and that they’ll last the length of the trip.
Be careful out there, and have a great summer.
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