Many people who have asthma find that their symptoms flare up in the summer. Heat and humid air can cause coughing and shortness of breath because the environment affects the airways. Smog and other environmental pollutants can also play a role.
Heat and humidity can allow allergens, such as dust mites and mold, to thrive. They can worsen the effects of other pollutants, such as ozone and exhaust fumes from vehicles. A study that was published in the journal Asthma found that children visit the hospital for asthma symptoms more when there is more elemental carbon in the air. Other pollutants, such as smoke from fires, can trigger asthma symptoms.
Even though hot and humid weather can trigger asthma symptoms, there are some ways to prevent attacks and stay comfortable. Follow these tips:
• Asthma symptoms can be triggered within four minutes of inhaling hot and humid air. If the weather is hot and humid, try to stay inside with the air conditioner on, especially during the hottest parts of the day. If you work outdoors, ask if you can do something else indoors on the hottest days, or at the hottest times of the day.
• You may need to adjust your asthma medication schedule or dosage during hot weather.
• If you think you might be allergic to something in the environment, such as mold or pollen, discuss allergy medicine with your doctor. This can help prevent asthma symptoms from being triggered by an allergy. Look for ways to limit your exposure to allergens.
• Control the humidity in your home. Keeping the humidity at 50 percent or less can reduce mold, dust mites, and other allergens that grow in humid environments.
• Check the local news or online resources to monitor the air quality in your area. If the air quality is poor, stay inside as much as possible. If you need to drive, keep the windows up and set the air conditioner to recirculate air so you will not pull outside pollutants into the car.
• If you need to run errands, try to do it early, before the weather gets unbearably hot and humid and the air quality deteriorates.
• Swimming can be good exercise for a person with asthma and can prevent you from overheating, but sometimes the chlorine in pool water triggers asthma symptoms. If that happens to you, find another way to exercise.