While everyone’s asthma is different, higher temperatures often trigger asthma and asthma related symptoms. Hot, dry air may prompt asthma symptoms for some, while others seem to be more affected by hot humid air. However, when it comes to the weather the biggest trigger is extreme changes in temperature, such as going from an air-conditioned building to a hot humid day outside.
Hot weather is also an abundant breeding ground for dust mites, mould and other allergens, all of which thrive when humidity increases. These allergens make the impact of environmental pollutants like ozone and exhaust fumes much worse for asthmatics. Humidity is often complicated by other seasonal irritants such as smoke emitted by fires or dust from storms and windy weather.
When you suffer from seasonal asthma, hot summers seem like they’re never going to end. Below we have outlined a few simply lifestyle changes and recommendations that you should consider to help limit your exposure to heat and humidity and prevent an asthma flare up this summer. Note: it’s also important to remember that while asthma symptoms can be triggered by heat and humidity, the signs and symptoms are no different or more intense than normal.
Always Think Ahead
You should always keep your asthma medication with you no matter what the weather is like. Asthma symptoms can strike at any time, especially when the heat or humidity is extreme.
Another way to ensure summer doesn’t catch you unprepared is to check both the local Air Quality Index and Pollen Count every day before heading outside. You can check both online or by downloading apps that are available on iOS and Android, like AirVisual or AirMatters.
If the air quality is poor or the pollen count is high, see if you can change your plans and stay inside. If you plan on driving anywhere it’s important that the windows are closed and the air conditioning is set to recirculate so that outside pollutants aren’t pulled into the car. If you are catching public transport or are required to walk, consider wearing a face mask to reduce exposure.
- Think ahead – By thinking ahead and being consciously aware of your symptoms, you can easily identify when an asthma flare up is about to take place or is in its early stages.
- Check the forecast – When it looks like heat, humidity and air are all going to be unpleasant, try scheduling any outdoor activities as early as possible in the morning so that you can avoid being out in the hottest parts of the day. Exercising should be done earlier too, when the temperature is more tolerable and the quality of air is better.
- Have a plan – be ready to deal with your asthma if and when it flares up. It’s important to have a plan in place should you be caught off guard or should you need assistance. An asthma plan is an invaluable method of safely managing your asthma throughout the heat of summer and ensure that if you need urgent assistance, those around you are aware and informed of what to do.
- Play it safe – If you’re uncertain about the conditions, play it safe.
Other tips and tricks
Stay Cool & Hydrated
Recent studies have found that dehydration can affect asthma. So, whenever you are outside in the heat, it is crucial to stay cool and drink lots of water to prevent your asthma from flaring up. Note: staying hydrated in extreme weather is very important whether you have asthma or not.
If you are an asthmatic, you should always do your best to combat the intense heat and keep yourself cool. When it comes to working or exercising outside in the heat remember to have plenty of breaks, know your limits, never overexert yourself and use your reliever medication whenever you need it.
Asthmatics should also avoid inhaling extremely hot air. It’s sometimes best to avoid the heat altogether by spending the hottest summer days inside buildings with air-conditioning, especially if you have allergies and the pollen count is high.
Control the Indoor Humidity
Controlling the outside weather is impossible but with modern air conditioners you can control how it feels in your home environment. Indoor humidity should be set to 50 percent or below as it will reduce the amount of mould, dust mites and other humidity-related allergens that grow in warm, moist environments.
Swim to Cool Down
A highly recommended activity for many asthmatics, swimming during the summer is one of the best methods to reduce the symptoms of asthma as well as decrease the chances of overheating. If you find that chlorine is a trigger for summer asthma symptoms, you can try another body of water, like the beach or a river.
Talk to Your Doctor
It won’t take you long to work out if hot, humid air creates problems for controlling your asthma. Researchers studying the effects of hot and humid air noted that symptoms usually occur within 3 to 4 minutes of inhaling.
Once you are certain that your asthma symptoms are worse during summer, or are otherwise triggered by hotter temperatures and humid weather, ask your doctor if the current treatment for your asthma is right for you.
When heat and humidity does affect your asthma, your doctor may decide to change the dose or scheduling of your medication.
By making these changes during the summer, you won’t have to endure months of unhappiness and discomfort with worsening symptoms of asthma.