Childhood Vs Adult Symptoms
Children and adults generally have similar symptoms. But, identifying asthma symptoms in children can be more difficult, especially in younger children who may not be able to tell you how they are feeling.
Here are some things to watch for in your child that could indicate asthma:
- Not being able to keep up with other children while running around
- Having a hard time catching their breath or breathing faster than other children who are doing the same thing
- Looks like they have a cold, which could actually be asthma
- Coughing, especially at night
- Feel restless, irritable and/or very tired
What to do:
STEP 1: Immediately use a fast-acting reliever inhaler . Use a spacer if provided.STEP 2: Check your symptoms. If they are gone, you can go back to your normal activities. If they symptoms get worse or do not improve within 10 minutes, this is an emergency. Follow the steps below.
Make sure you are asthma-ready with a review.
We recommend seeing your doctor every six months to a year, depending on your level of asthma control.
If you are pregnant, the Australian Asthma Handbook suggests you should have your asthma reviewed by your doctor every four weeks.
An asthma review should also be organised for within three days with your doctor if you have been to the emergency department or been hospitalised for your asthma and again 2-4 weeks later.
You and your doctor can also review your written Asthma Action Plan together.
Stay Indoors But Make Sure Indoors Is Healthy
Indoor humidity levels in the home can play an important role in family health, particularly when asthma and/or allergies are present. Higher levels of humidity in your home can provide an environment for two undesirable triggers dust mites and mould. There are a number of products on the market that can help to control indoor humidity including air-conditioners, dehumidifiers and heaters. You can find out more about how these products work in our Indoor Humidity factsheet.
Allergies: Is It Pollen Or The Weather
The image of someone sneezing uncontrollably during springtime, when lots of pollen is floating around in the air, is a familiar one. And for people who have allergies to pollen, an uptick in symptoms during the spring — including sneezing, stuffiness, and even difficulty breathing — is a very real problem that can pose serious risks. Several studies show a surge in emergency room visits for children and adults during seasons when pollen counts rise. For those folks allergic to pollen from flowers, trees, and grasses, antihistamines often quell the symptoms that would otherwise make spring a miserable season.
But plenty of people attribute their allergy-like symptoms to pollen when the weather — not allergens per se — may be to blame. Unlike allergic rhinitis, non-allergic rhinitis can be brought on by sudden changes in temperature and humidity. People with nonallergic rhinitis would test negative for any specific allergies.
The reason for the confusion between allergic and nonallergic rhinitis is simple. They both tend to occur at the same time of year and produce similar symptoms: swollen nasal passages, sneezing, and congestion.
Though the symptoms may be the same, the treatment is not.
“People with nonallergic rhinitis are not going to respond to antihistamines,” says Jonathan Bernstein, MD, a professor of clinical medicine at the University of Cincinnati. “People buy this stuff and don’t understand why it’s not working.”
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How Does Pollen Impact Asthma
Pollens are a very common allergic trigger. Pollens are generated by trees, grasses and weeds and are carried by the wind on hot, windy days. Airborne pollens are easily inhaled, especially during warm-weather months and trigger asthma symptoms or even an asthma attack.
The exact timing of high-allergen seasons will vary depending on the local climate and weather patterns, but in most regions of Canada it follows this general trend: tree allergens are most common, grass pollens in the summer, and ragweed pollens in the fall.
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Each year, asthma and the accompanying shortness of breath, chest tightness, fatigue, coughing, and wheezing sends an estimated 9.8 million people to the doctors office for relief and accounts for 1.8 million emergency department visits.
Winter can be especially challenging for people with asthma. Thats because seasonal triggers like indoor allergens and dry, cold air make it hard to keep asthma under control.
Here, Dr. Stephen Canfield, an allergist/immunologist at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center and an assistant professor of medicine at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons, shares his insights on the challenges winter poses and best tips for keeping asthma symptoms at bay.
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Follow Your Asthma Action Plan
Together with your doctor, develop or update your personal written asthma action plan with instructions on how to manage your asthma over winter. A written asthma action plan helps you recognise worsening asthma and tells you what to do in response. Acting quickly can help prevent a mild flare-up from developing into a serious attack.
Can The Weather Affect My Childs Asthma
Yes. Weather conditions can bring on asthma symptoms. Some kids asthma symptoms get worse at certain times of the year. For others, a severe storm or sudden weather change can trigger a flare-up.
Hot, humid air also can be a problem. In some places, heat and sunlight combine with pollutants to create ground-level ozone. This kind of ozone can be a strong asthma trigger.
Wet weather and windy weather can cause problems too. Wet weather encourages mold growth, and wind can blow mold and pollen through the air.
If you think weather plays a role in your childs asthma, keep a diary of asthma symptoms and possible triggers and discuss them with your doctor. If pollen, mold, or other allergens make asthma symptoms worse, ask about allergy testing.
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Why Does Cold Air Affect Asthma Symptoms
It is well-known that being exposed to cold weather may trigger asthma.
The amount of water vapor in the air is directly related to the temperature of the air. Warm and hot air holds much more water vapor than cold air. In cold weather, water vapor condenses on solid surfaces, leading to the development of frost on the ground and thin sheets of ice on concrete surfaces and pavement. This is because the cold air loses the water vapor it holds to condensation on these hard surfaces. The end result is that cold air is very dry air, having very little water vapor within it.
When someone with asthma goes outdoors in cold weather, their lungs are exposed to not only cold air but very dry air. As the air is inspired into the lungs, it warms. When warmed in the lungs, this air can suddenly hold much more water vapor. Unfortunately, this water vapor comes from the lungs of the person inhaling the cold dry air. The end result for an asthmatic is that the airways lose water to the air which is inspired. This leaves the airways very dry.
With exercise, you breathe in and out much greater quantities of air. For the asthmatic, this breathing in and out of very dry air removes moisture from the lining cells of the lungs, also known as the respiratory epithelial cells. This results in these cells becoming dry and dehydrated.
Other Conditions Can Cause Asthma
Infections, viruses, and diseases that affect your lungs can trigger your asthma. Examples include colds, respiratory infections, pneumonia, and the flu. Sinus infections and acid reflux can also cause an asthma flare-up, as can some medicines.
Perfumes and heavily scented items can aggravate your airways. Stress, anxiety, and other strong emotions can also trigger fast breathing. This irritation in your airway or fast breathing can cause an asthma flare-up too. Additionally, food allergies may cause an asthma attack, especially if you have a history of having an anaphylactic reaction to a food allergen.
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Do Allergies Get Worse When It Rains
Dr. Pien says yes, allergies can get much worse when it rains. This is due to changes in the amount of pollen in the air. She adds that some studies have even shown that pollen grains can rupture or burst, and then be inhaled by people with allergies and asthma.
According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, grass and weed pollen is higher when it rains. When raindrops hit the ground and break up clumps of pollen into smaller particles, those particles quickly spread out. This then leads to a sudden increase in allergy and allergic asthma symptoms during rain showers. This occurs frequently during heavy downpours.
What Are Some Resources To Help Me Track The Weather
Accuweather/AAFA personalized respiratory forecast Visit Accuweather.com for a personalized asthma forecast for your area. Enter your location. Then from the Personalized Forecasts drop-down menu, choose Respiratory. The Accuweather/AAFA forecast will show asthma alerts along with your forecast. The page also includes tips from AAFA on managing weather-related asthma issues.
AirNow The Environmental Protection Agencys site on air quality gives your areas Air Quality Index . Based on the AQI, you can tell if air quality could affect your asthma. An AQI of 101 or above is dangerous for those with asthma. You can also sign up to get daily email alerts.
National Allergy Bureau – Sign up to receive email alerts or download the app from the AAAAI to alert you of your area’s pollen counts.
Pollen.com Enter your zip code to get local pollen forecasts and pollen history.
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How To Manage Asthma In The Cold
Generally, triggers are only a problem when asthma is not well-controlled but for others, when it comes to cold and flu this time of year, is hard to avoid.
An Asthma Action Plan, written by a doctor, highlights the daily preventer and reliever medications required for the individual, and what to do if symptoms are getting worse.
It can also set out what to do in different weather and trigger conditions.
For parents and carers of children with asthma , we encourage you to discuss with teachers or other important contacts, your childs condition, and whether they are impacted by the cold.
Also make sure schools and/or early learning centres have a copy of the childs written Asthma Action Plan and that you have taken in their reliever medication, spacer and a mask, if appropriate for the type of puffer and age of the child.
If using a preventer is part of the written Asthma Action Plan, make sure they are taking it as prescribed, especially now in the lead up to winter.
Consistent and controlled asthma prevention is the best way to make sure people with asthma breathe and live freely.
For more information regarding asthma and the cold as a trigger, call an Asthma Educator on 1800 ASTHMA .
AirPhysio is a partner of Asthma Australia. AirPhysio has not been involved in the development of this article.
Air Fresheners And Scented Candles
Scented candles and indoor air fresheners can make your house smell extra fresh, sweet, floral, or earthy but they may be doing more harm than good when it comes to your health, the ACAAI notes. âWe know that the fragrances from air fresheners trigger allergy symptoms or aggravate existing allergies in a lot of people,â Dr. Tuck says. Perfume and flower scents are particularly likely to irritate sensitive airways, according to the results of research by a Swedish team published in the January 2016 issue of the International Journal of Environmental Health Research.
â Additional reporting by Madeline Vann, MPH
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What Allergens Are In The Air Today
Checking the pollen count is only the beginning. Mold spores are also a problem for many people with allergies and asthma. With vigilance and elbow grease, people with mold allergies can keep indoor mold and mildew at bay.
Its a different story outdoors. Mold spores and seeds fly through the air from late spring through fall and grow on decaying leaves, compost piles and grasses. It peaks during the summer with hot, humid weather.
Mold never really goes away. Snow can cover mold but rarely kill it. Windy, rainy weather during any season sends spores airborne.
Checking pollen and mold counts using a website or local allergy forecast app can help you plan your daily activities and manage your symptoms.
Visit the National Allergy Bureau at AAAAI.org/nab for pollen count information. Visitairnow.gov for Environmental Protection Agency air quality alerts. Both websites also have apps available for smartphones and tablets.
Is Asthma Triggered By Cold Air
When someone with asthma breathes in cold, dry air, it can make the muscles inside start to spasm while also trying to keep airways open. This further irritates the lining of the airways and causes coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath.
Cold air can trigger asthma symptoms and flare-ups, especially when theres dryness in cold air. For many people with asthma, its the dryness in cold air that can lead to breathing problems. Cold air accompanied by windy conditions can also trigger symptoms. In general, the more severe your asthma is, the more likely cold air is to affect you.
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Asthma Symptoms In Winter Season
The asthma symptoms peak during the fall time, however, different seasons leave different impact on various asthma patients. Winter is found to be a problematic phase for a lot of patients with asthma. The dry and cold air of winter can make asthma worse, particularly the morning hours, when people usually engage in exercising. The major reason for wheezing in the winter season is the cold and dry air.
Some asthma patients will experience variation in their symptoms even when walking around outside in the cold weather during the winter season. Teens, particularly, with asthma suffer a lot during the winter season. To get rid of the symptoms of asthma in winter, patient should wear a scarf around the face to help feel warmer. Using an inhaled bronchodilator for 15 to 20 minutes before exercising or going outside in the cold weather can also help offset the effects of cold air on asthma.
Move Away From Triggers
The presence of asthma triggers wont only cause an attack, they can also make your symptoms worse. Be sure to try to get away from things that may be triggering your asthma attack.
For example, if youre in an area where people are smoking cigarettes, you should move away promptly.
Its also important to know your triggers. Common triggers include:
- , such as pet dander, pollen, or certain foods
You should always be sure to seek immediate emergency medical treatment if you experience any of the following symptoms during an asthma attack:
- your symptoms continue to get worse even after treatment
- you cant speak except in short words or phrases
- youre straining your chest muscles in an effort to breathe
- your shortness of breath or wheezing is severe, particularly in the early morning or late-night hours
- you begin to feel drowsy or tired
- your lips or face appear blue when youre not coughing
Symptoms that indicate that you could be experiencing an asthma attack include:
- severe shortness of breath
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Whats The Pollen Forecast
Pollen comes from blooming grasses, plants, trees and weeds. It is carried far and wide by the wind. You might be allergic to one kind of pollen and not another.
Pollen counts vary with the weather and location, so pollen allergies differ dramatically from person to person. For this reason, its essential to know which types of pollen will trigger your allergy symptoms. Monitor your areas pollen count daily. Work with your doctor to avoid exposure and treat symptoms.
Pollen counts measure how much pollen is in the air on a given day. Scientists use air sampling devices to collect particles from the air and then analyze them. They identify types of pollen as well as how much of each is in the sample. A pollen count covers a large area since pollen is airborne and is measured by grains of pollen in a cubic meter.
Government agencies, universities and commercial research institutions measure pollen counts to provide information to the public. They also determine how different allergens affect people and develop medications and treatments.
Changing Weather And Asthma
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If you’re like me, weather can be a pretty gnarly trigger for my asthma. I joke with my friends and family that my lungs are a barometer and can tell when the weather is changing. Some people can feel the change in barometric pressure in their joints, while I can feel it in my lungs. I think many of us asthmatics can pretty much pinpoint one season of the year when our asthma tends to act up more. For me, it usually transitions from spring to the summer.
The weather starts to heat up and can become downright miserable. I find myself checking weather reports often so I can prepare myself for the day and week. Once you have been able to figure out which weather patterns tend to set off your asthma more than others, you’ll be able to prepare for it.
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Sinusitis And Other Upper Respiratory Infections
Much like asthma causes inflammation in the lining of your airways, sinusitis causes inflammation in the mucus membranes that line your sinuses. This makes the membranes put out more mucus. If you have asthma and your sinuses get inflamed, your airways may too. Prompt treatment of a sinus infection can relieve asthma symptoms.
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