Dealing with Summertime Asthma
summer rolls around, many of us look forward to taking vacations and relaxing
poolside. But for some of the millions of Americans who suffer from asthma, the
rising temperatures and longer days signal a time to be on guard and prepared
for potential asthma triggers.
is a disease that causes the airways of the lungs to swell and
narrow, leading to wheezing, shortness of breath, chest tightness and coughing.
“Asthma is serious and
can even be fatal on occasion,” said
Krishnaswamy, M.D., professor of pulmonary, critical care,
allergy and immunologic medicine at Wake
Forest Baptist Medical Center. “It is a disease not to be taken lightly.”
offers the following tips to help asthma sufferers breathe better this summer:
your triggers: Understanding what causes your asthma
symptoms is a crucial step to preventing them. Some people’s asthma symptoms
are triggered by an allergic reaction, some asthmatics experience a reaction
during exercise, and others may react to certain medications, infections or
heartburn. Different types of asthma call for different treatments, and an
asthma specialist can help you learn how to manage yours.
clear of chemical irritants: The smell of chlorine and household
products such as cleaners and air fresheners can aggravate the airways and
cause an asthma flare-up. Opt for swimming in outdoor pools, which have better
air circulation than indoor pools, and wear a surgical mask when cleaning.
s’mores, not smoke: Campfire smoke can exacerbate asthma, but
that doesn’t mean that asthmatics can’t enjoy bonfire activities like roasting
marshmallows. To help prevent an asthma attack, be sure to sit upwind of the
the weather and air quality index: Dramatic changes in
temperature; windy weather and thunderstorms that stir up pollen and mold; air
pollution; and hot, humid air can all irritate the airways. Try to avoid the
outdoors if the forecast, air quality index or allergy count isn’t in your
an inhaler close by: If your asthma is triggered by an allergen,
use your prescribed inhaler as soon as you notice the symptoms. Seek medical
help if the symptoms don’t subside. If your asthma is exercise-induced, use
your prescribed inhaler 10 minutes before you exercise. Also, a warm up may
help decrease wheezing.
an asthma action plan: Build a plan with your doctor that explains
when it is appropriate to self-treat the disease and when you should go to the
“Everyone’s asthma is a little bit
different,” said Krishnaswamy. “For those who are particularly sensitive during
the summer months, the season may tend to drag on. But with a few tweaks to
your normal routine, summer will breeze by.”