Thunderstorms And Extreme Weather Can Be A Threat To Asthma Control
In hot summer conditions, extreme weather such as thunderstorms become more prevalent. Experts aren’t entirely sure why but have identified that such weather conditions can trigger asthma attacks, sometimes severe.
It may be the airflow patterns during thunderstorms that cause this effect, rather than electrical activity such as thunder and lightning. It seems likely that these airflow patterns could result in more concentrated levels of pollen and mold, which could be one explanation for the increase in asthma attacks during thunderstorms.
Regardless of the reason, extreme weather definitely has had an impact on some of us asthmatics.
How Houston Humidty Can Affect Your Asthma
Suffering from asthma is no joke, and everyone who experiences asthma attacks knows how weather conditions can affect it and make it worse. The weather gets lots of blame for lots of conditions, from achy joints to headaches, and in many cases its air pressure or changes in pressure that brings on the suffering.
With asthma, changes in air pressure can also lead to a feeling of stuffiness or difficulty breathing, but humidity is one of the main culprits. If you live in an area that has high humidity, its important you understand how this can trigger asthma attacks so you can do all in your power to avoid them.
Can The Weather Affect My Asthma
If you are someone who suffers from asthma, you may have noticed that your symptoms become worse during certain types of weather. This is not a coincidence! Different climates can result in allergy and asthma triggers, and exacerbate symptoms.
Avoiding your triggers is ideal in preventing an asthma attack, but it is not always practical. Understanding why certain weather may be affecting you will help you take the proper precautions.
Lets take a look at how different types of weather could be affecting your asthma:
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How To Avoid Worsening Of Asthma During Rains
It is not possible to control rain but with proper preventive measures and management technique you can avoid asthma attacks or reduce it from worsening. First of all stay inside your house when it is raining. Less exposure outside will reduce exposure to pollen from entering into the air passage.
Avoid living for long period in damp area in your house. Dampness invites growth of molds. If you stay in this area for long time, there is risk of molds entering into the airways. Stay in clean and dry place. Prevent dampness in your house.
Patients already suffering from asthma must take their prescribed medicines regularly during rainy season. This will help to reduce possibility of asthmatic attacks in first place and if present will reduce its exacerbation.
Pick A Comfortable Face Covering
Do not use N-95 respirators. First of all, they should be reserved for health care providers. Theyre the most effective at blocking virus particles compared with other kinds of masks, but theyre also more difficult to breathe through. The CDC currently recommends that most people opt for cloth face coverings rather than N-95 respirators or even surgical masks for venturing out in public.
Look for a mask that is made of a moisture-wicking and breathable fabric, says Dr. Elliott. If youre really struggling, you might be better off with a bandana or neck gaitor. They are more breathable since they are open at the bottom but still provide a protective barrier, she says.
Whatever you choose, make sure it covers your nose and mouth. If a patient requires portable supplemental oxygen, the mask needs to snuggly accommodate the oxygen tubing, says Dr. Schachter. In these situations, it is wise to limit outside activities to the essential minimum.
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Cold Air And Asthma = Winter Asthma
Does cold weather affect asthma?Absolutely! Cold weather is a common asthma trigger. Wintertime can be a potentially dangerous time of year for many people with asthma.
To understand your triggers, picture your bronchial tubes, the airways that carry air to your lungs, as branches on a tree. A person with asthma has a certain amount of inflammation in these airways all the time. Inflammation causes them to narrow and makes it harder for air to get to the lungs. This is why people with asthma have a harder time breathing even if theyre not having a flare-up.
Changes in weather and fluctuations in temperature are known to inflame airways and trigger asthma flares. For people with bronchial tubes that are already inflamed, the impact of cold weather on breathing can be significant.
Humid Air Is Heavy And Harder To Breathe In
Have you ever felt that it is harder to breathe when atmospheric conditions are hot and humid? A study published a few years ago found that humid air actually increases airway inflammation and causes airways to narrow.4
Leon Lebowitz, BA, RRT, here at Asthma.net states:
“If youve ever exercised on a hot, summer day you know that it seems harder to breathe. Add some humidity to the scenario, and breathing is even more difficult. These very same conditions seem to create much more difficulty for those with asthma. It is not entirely clear as to why the heat and humidity affect asthmatics the way they do. Quite simply, hot, humid air is heavier than normal air and so, is more difficult to breathe. These conditions create a chain reaction of events that can raise the body temperature, increase sweating and possibly dehydration, and cause you to breathe at a faster rate. When a person with asthma is having difficulty breathing , these conditions can easily exacerbate asthma symptoms, even without actually causing them.”
Besides the effect that breathing warm air, especially warm, humid air can have on your ability to breathe, there are other factors to consider. Hot, moist air creates the perfect breeding ground for mold growth and dispersal of mold spores into the air. It’s also a great environment for dust mite growth. These are two of the main allergens for people who have allergic asthma.
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How Does Asthma Affect Children In Particular
Parents of asthmatic children should be especially concerned about how the place they live affects their childs asthma severity. Asthma is a long-term lung disease that inflames and narrows airways, making it difficult to breathe. Asthma can be caused by a number of factors that irritate the lungs and its also possible to develop asthma as an adult, even if you didnt have it as a child
Asthma is especially dangerous to children because of their small lungs. This makes children more sensitive to asthma triggers, which can range from humidity, pollution, pollen, exercise or other irritating particles like mold or smoke.
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Can The Weather Affect My Child’s 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 child’s 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.
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.
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Look Out For Yourself And Others
If you live by yourself and find it hard to get out, arrange for someone to check on you. If you know someone who lives by themselves and finds it hard to get out, check on them when it gets hot.
These tips will help you cope in hot weather, but you should always be prepared for a flare-up of your symptoms. Have enough medication at home, keeping it below 25°C or in a fridge, following the storage instructions on the packaging. Make sure you have agreed a written plan with your health care professional so you know what to do if you feel unwell in any weather.
You can learn more about self-management in other lung conditions, such as bronchiectasis and pulmonary fibrosis, on our health information pages. Talk to your GP, nurse or respiratory specialist about creating a plan specific for you.
If you have more questions about dealing with hot weather, call 03000 030 555 to talk to our friendly helpline team or ask your question online.
Migraine Headaches And Weather Changes
Falling barometric pressure, a sharp increase in humidity, a sudden drop in temperature — these weather changes may trigger migraines in people already susceptible to them.
And it appears that stable weather may help reduce the incidence of migraines. “I had a patient here in New York who moved to Arizona and experienced an astounding improvement in her migraines,” says Richard Lipton, MD, director of the Montefiore Headache Center. While New Yorkers endure sudden and frequent changes in humidity levels and temperature, Arizona residents enjoy fairly uniform conditions marked by dry, warm air.
Research supports the theory that changing weather triggers migraines. In one survey that asked migraine sufferers to list triggers, 53% responded “weather.”
Not everyone can move to a different climate so they can feel better. But migraine sufferers can take some action against weather-induced headaches. First, Lipton urges his patients to keep a diary of their migraines to make cause-and-effect connections. Then, if weather changes seem to play a role in migraines, the next step may be to discuss pretreatment with a doctor to avoid the onset of pain.
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Understanding Humidity And Asthma
In the simplest terms, humidity is the amount of water or moisture in the air. When the media talks about humidity levels, they’re referring to what is known as “relative humidity.”1 This is the percentage of water in the air, compared to the maximum amount of water the air can actually hold at the current temperature. Hot air can hold more moisture than cold air. So, a relative humidity level of 70% on a hot day is going to feel a lot “wetter” than the same humidity level on a cold day.
According to the National Weather Service, humidity during hot summer months of less than 55 percent is “comfortable.” Fifty-five to 65 percent humidity begins to feel “sticky,” and anything over 65% is “oppressive.”2 You can expect that humidity becomes an irritant type trigger for many asthmatics at levels of 65% and higher.
What Climate Is Best For Asthma
Extreme temperatures, i.e., too dry and cold air or too hot and humid air, are bad for asthma. Doctors suggest keeping the air conditioning in your home set at around 70 degrees Fahrenheit and perhaps a little cooler at bedtime. They also recommend keeping humidity levels between 30 and 50 percent. These temperatures and humidity levels can help you breathe better and keep allergens like dust mites and mold under control.
The truth is that there is no perfect weather for asthma. Many people with asthma find that consistency in temperature is what works best for them. It helps to keep symptoms under control, along with controlling irritation from allergens and pollutants.
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Check The Weather Pollen And Pollution Forecasts
To prepare for a heatwave, its a good idea to set up email alerts for hot weather. This way, youll know when its expected to be hot and you can see how long the hot weather will last.
Remember, high pollen and pollution levels can combine with heat and increase your chance of a flare-up of your symptoms. So, if you get hay fever, keep an eye on pollen levels and avoid going out when they are high. You can also check air pollution levels in your area for the next five days.
You can read more about asthma and pollen on our sister charitys website, Asthma UK.
Its a good idea to have a self-management plan in place to help you manage and understand your symptoms. Create a plan with the support of your GP or nurse.
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This machine is ideal for children since theres no hot water involved in cool mist humidifiers. Moreover, this humidifier is capable of diffusing essential oils. If you want to add in some aromatherapy experience or benefits for you or your children, go right ahead.
It has a large 4L capacity, ideal for large spaces or if you want a long runtime, make it a safe and reliable choice for kids with asthma. Also, comes with a smart mode for maintaining a healthy humidity level automatically with a built-in intelligent sensor.
This machine from LEVOIT is perfect for large rooms with a mist output of up to 500 mL/hr, its the perfect option for large rooms as well as small homes. It can easily handle space up to 750 square feet without an effort.
Moreover, this machine has a 6-liter tank capacity with a runtime of about 60 hours in the low-mist setting. Also, it has both cool and warm mist settings that suit your homes humidity.
The cool mist setting is perfect for clearing sinuses and alleviating asthma, while the warm mist is better for killing bacteria in the water. The main downside is that adding water can feel like a chore, and the design of the water tank could use some improvement.
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What The Forecast Means
Asthma index: a combination of weather factors that can trigger asthma symptoms. A higher index value means more people with asthma will potentially be affected by weather factors, such as changes in temperature or allergens in the air.
Allergy index: a combination of weather factors and plant growth stages that increase the release and airborne spread of pollen. A higher index value represents a high pollen count and/or spread of pollen.
Flu index: a combination of historical flu data and temperatures. The index represents the degree to which transmission of the virus is favorable. A higher flu index means the spread of a flu virus is very favorable, assuming the disease is present.
The colored bars atop each index represent where the data currently stands based on the forecast date. Each index is scaled from 0 to 10, with 0 being very low and 10 being very high. The further to the right the tick mark is, the higher the index level.
Tips For Surviving Summer Asthma
Many of the strategies you can use to prevent summer asthma symptoms from flaring are the same ones you would apply to stay comfortable:
If you have summer asthma, the season can seem to last forever. But a few lifestyle changes can limit your exposure to heat and humidity. Take care of yourself, and take heart that cooler days are ahead.
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How Do I Know If Other Medicines Im Taking Are Making My Asthma Worse
Any medicine can cause wheezing or shortness of breath if youre allergic to it. If you notice that your asthma gets worse every time you take a certain medicine, tell your doctor as soon as possible. If you use a peak flow meter to check your asthma, tell your doctor if you see changes in your peak flow readings after you take a certain medicine. Your doctor can decide whether your medicine should be changed.
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Extreme Temperatures Increase Heart Risk
When asked about the greatest exertion-related risk to patients with heart disease, cardiologist Steve Pollock, MD, director of St. Joseph’s Heart Institute in Towson, Md., doesn’t make a single mention of extreme activities like bungee jumping or deep-sea diving. “The only restriction I place on patients with heart disease is this: no shoveling snow,” he tells WebMD.
Already, people who suffer from heart disease can have narrowed coronary arteries. Add to these factors the additional exertion required for shoveling snow, and the scenario can quickly turn into a dangerous, even deadly, heart attack.
Extreme heat presents a problem too, as having heart disease makes it harder to regulate the body’s core temperature. “People forget they have heart disease. All of a sudden, they’re sweating profusely and dehydrated,” Pollock says, noting factors that can lead to heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
Old age also predisposes people to heat-related illnesses. “Once you get past 65, the thermoregulatory system has a harder time staying balanced,” says meteorologist Scott Sheridan, PhD, associate professor of climatology at Kent State University.
The Chicago heat wave of 1995 bore this out. Of the 465 heat-related deaths that occurred then, more than half of the victims were 75 or older.
“The idea that certain groups are more vulnerable than others to weather extremes shouldn’t preclude anyone from protecting themselves,” warns Sheridan.
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