How to Weather Asthma Year-Round

Many people with asthma can tell what season it is just by how they feel. If your asthma seems especially sensitive to the fluctuations of temperature and air quality, you may need to try different treatment approaches to manage asthma effectively for different times of the year.

Seasonal Asthma Guide

Here is a quick overview of some of the most common seasonal asthma triggers, along with some tips on how best to manage your symptoms for each season and throughout the year.

Winter

Breathing in the cold winter air can often be enough to make your asthma flare. Hibernating indoors probably won't solve the problem either since you'll be exposed to a host of inside triggers including perfumes, scented candles, cleaning products, fireplaces, and live Christmas trees which can contain mold.

What you can do: The best way to protect yourself is to cover your mouth and nose with a scarf before heading outdoors and use your fast-acting relief inhaler preventatively. You should also skip strenuous exercise in very cold weather. Avoid scented products and steer clear of fires and indoor live trees. Since the risk of flu and other illnesses can also pose a serious threat for asthmatics in the winter, stay away from sick people and avoid germs as much as possible. Also, get plenty of rest to keep your immune system up to par.

Spring

The pleasure of warmer weather may quickly become dampened by worsened respiratory symptoms. When grass, flowers, and trees spring into bloom, pollen and other allergens can be released quickly and make you feel pretty miserable.

What you can do: Pay attention to what seems to trigger your asthma so you can take steps to avoid these allergens. Pollen and mold counts are often lower in the early mornings and evenings, so plan outdoor activities for safer times of day. If you want to garden or do yard work, wear a mask to avoid breathing in allergens. Taking allergy pills preventatively and giving your home a good spring cleaning regularly to remove any allergens can help keep symptoms under control.

Summer

The dog days of summer can take a real toll on asthmatics, since the hot, heavy, and humid air can make it particularly difficult to breathe.

What you can do: Your best bet when the conditions aren't optimal is to stay inside with the windows closed and let your air conditioner filter allergens from the air. Monitor the pollen count and air quality regularly so you can find the best times to plan any essential outdoor activities. Shower after spending time outdoors to remove allergens from your hair and skin. By taking these preventative steps, along with always having your asthma inhaler handy, you can weather the summer months without putting too much heat on your breathing.

Fall

You might be surprised to know that more people fall prey to asthma during the autumn months than at any other time of year. There are several reasons this occurs. First, ragweed and mold can be particularly prevalent and this can trigger symptoms in many people. In addition, the start of the school year can mean an increase in exposure to colds and flus for many families. For asthmatics, this can be particularly problematic.

What you can do: Often taking seasonal allergy medications can help to prevent a reaction that can lead to asthma symptoms. It's also a good idea to remove dead leaves from your yard so they don't worsen your condition. Protect yourself by getting your flu shot as soon as possible and practice illness prevention steps, including washing your hands well with soap and water and steering clear of public places where you'll come into contact with lots of germs.

Steps for Managing Asthma All Year Long

While your asthma may change with the coming of each new season, there are some basic components of managing your condition that need to remain consistent throughout the year.

It's important to have an updated asthma action plan and to follow it diligently all year round. This includes taking your control medication regularly and monitoring your lung capacity and symptoms so you'll recognize changes in your breathing at the very earliest stage. That way you can respond by increasing your medications and seeing your doctor as needed.

 


 

Sources:

"Asthma Action Plan." American Lung Association in Colorado, Denver. American Lung Association. N.d. Web. 5 Nov. 2011.

"Fall Seasonal Asthma." National Asthma Patient Alliance (NAPA) Blog. NAPA, 22 Sept. 2011. Web. 9 Nov. 2011.

"Four Seasons of Asthma." Asthma Society of Canada. Asthma Society of Canada, n.d. Web. 5 Nov. 2011.

"Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Management of Asthma (EPR-3)." National Heart Lung and Blood Institute. NHLBI, n.d. Web.  Nov. 2011.

"Spring Forward by Reducing Your Asthma Triggers." Central Utah Public Health Department. Central Utah Public Health Department, 2011. Web. 5 Nov. 2011.