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How Does Heat Affect Asthma

Tips For Maintaining Asthma Control During The Hot Summer Months

How does cold weather affect asthma?

Planning ahead is the key to maintaining asthma control in the fact of hot, humid or hot, dry weather. Here are a few tips that can make a difference:

  • Stay indoors as much as you can, where environmental conditions are more steady, especially if you have air conditioning. Try to limit outdoor times to early morning or after sunset, when temperatures are often more moderate.
  • Watch the pollen and mold levels by checking local weather forecasts or using websites such as pollen.com. Stay indoors as much as you can when levels are high.
  • Take your asthma and allergy medication as prescribed, including keeping your quick-relief inhaler on hand at all times.
  • Drink plenty of cool water to keep yourself hydrated.
  • Keep your Asthma Action Plan updated so you can respond to any slip in asthma control promptly.

With a little care and planning, you can prevent heat from becoming a significant factor when managing your asthma.

How Does Air Temperature Affect Asthma

Because asthma involves the airways, the air you inhale directly affects asthma symptoms. These symptoms are determined by different aspects of the air, including temperature and humidity.

Sudden changes in air temperature can trigger asthma. For example, a sudden change can occur if its hot outside and you enter a cool building.

Specifically, extreme air temperature and high humidity can worsen asthma.

Induced Sputum Processing And Analysis

Sputum was induced using incremental concentrations of 3, 4 and 5% hypertonic saline each delivered over 4min, via an ultrasonic nebuliser , set at an output of 2.4mL·min1. Subjects were pre-treated with 2.5mg salbutamol via a nebuliser. FEV1 was monitored closely throughout the test and the procedure was abandoned if FEV1 decreased by > 20%. Sputum processing was performed using the methods described by Pavord et al.. A haematoxylin and eosin stain was used for the cytospins. Sputum differential cell counts were calculated from counting 400 inflammatory cells and expressed as percentages of total inflammatory cell count. When sputum eosinophil cell percentage was counted on two separate occasions in 12 sputum samples from subjects with asthma, the correlation coefficient was r=0.98 . The intra-observer 95% CI was ±2.46%.

FEV1 was measured to ERS standards using a standard Vitalograph wedge-bellows spirometer.

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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.

Is Asthma Triggered By Cold Air

How Climate Change Affects Asthma

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.

Also Check: What Causes Increased Mucus Production In Asthma

How Weather Affects Asthma

Certain weather conditions, from extreme heat to extreme cold, from rain to thunderstorms, can prompt an asthma attack. Find out how to manage a weather-related asthma trigger so your asthma symptoms don’t kick in.

While environmental allergens and pollutants such as animal dander, smoke, and pollen can prompt an asthma attack, a change in weather conditions from cold air to humidity and even thunderstorms can do the same.

In people with asthma, the airways become hyper-reactive to allergens such as pollen and irritants such as perfumes, says Stanley Fineman, MD, MBA, an allergist with the Atlanta Allergy and Asthma Clinic.

Humidity, temperature changes, and other weather conditions can also can also irritate the airways, according to Dr. Fineman. Temperature changes in the airways can cause inflammation in the airways as well, says Dr. Fineman. For most people, this is not a problem. The nose controls humidity without difficulty. But for people with allergies and asthma, who may breathe air through the mouth more often, irritants, pollutants, and pollen are more of a factor.” Because people with asthma already have inflamed airways, the more severe the asthma, the more likely the weather is to affect them.

Paying For Your Medicines

Most adults with asthma will need to pay a prescription charge for their medicines.

If you need to take a lot of medicines, paying for each item individually could get quite expensive. You may find it cheaper to get a prescription prepayment certificate. This is where you pay a one-off charge for all your prescriptions over a 3- or 12-month period.

You will not need to pay for your medicines if you do not normally pay prescription charges. For example, all under-16s are entitled to free prescriptions.

Read more about prescription costs to find out if youre entitled to help with your prescription charges.

Also Check: What Can Cause Asthma Like Symptoms

Ask The Advocates: Does Heat Have An Impact On Asthma

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Sometimes ones asthma gets worse when it’s very hot outside. So we asked our advocate team of respiratory therapists and asthma educators the question: Does heat have an impact on asthma? Here are their responses:

Response from Theresa Cannizzarro, Respiratory Therapist:

Heat is one of my biggest asthma triggers. Some asthmatics are effected more than others when it is hot outside. Generally, when it’s warmer outside heat and sunlight combine with pollutants which can set off ones asthma. Heat with humidity can also be an asthma trigger. The moisture in the air makes it damp and heavy can make it harder to breathe. Humidity can also cause mold to grow faster which is another known asthma trigger. Not all asthmatics are adversely effected by the hot and humid air. Some do better when it is humid. Others notice that the dry hot air sets off their asthma more. It is important to figure out what your individual triggers are so you can take steps to protect yourself.

Response from Leon C. Lebowitz, BA, RRT:

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.

Response from John Bottrell, RRT:

Response from Lyn Harper, MPA, BSRT, RRT:

Response from Lorene Alba, AE-C:

Can Weather Affect A Person’s Asthma

How do colds and flu affect people with asthma?

Yes. Weather conditions can bring on asthma symptoms. Some people’s asthma symptoms get worse at certain times of the year. For others, a severe storm or sudden weather change can trigger a flare-up.

  • Cold, dry air is a common asthma trigger and can cause bad flare-ups. That’s especially true for people who play winter sports and have exercise-induced asthma.
  • 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 the growth of mold, and wind can blow mold and pollen through the air.

If you think weather may be triggering your asthma, work with your doctor to track your symptoms using an asthma symptoms trigger diary. Do you think that your asthma might be triggered by pollen, mold, or other allergens? Ask your doctor about allergy testing.

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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. Josephs Heart Institute in Towson, Md., doesnt 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 bodys core temperature. People forget they have heart disease. All of a sudden, theyre 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 shouldnt preclude anyone from protecting themselves, warns Sheridan.

Why Does Summertime Trigger Asthma Attacks

Several factors combine to make summer a prime time for asthma flare-ups. Heres what could be making you cough and feel short of breath:

Hot air: Sitting in a comfortable room between 70 and 78 degrees is unlikely to trigger asthma without an allergen present. However, breathing hot air can make your symptoms flare up because heat affects the physiology of your airways.

Humidity: Humid air alone can trigger asthma. Add heat to the mix, and you have a fertile breeding ground for dust mites and mold. These allergens can thrive indoors during the summer, meaning you may not be safe from asthma attacks, even if you stay inside.

Pollen: In late spring and early summer, grass pollen takes to the air. Then, while July sees little pollen activity, ragweed season begins in August. These allergens can trigger asthma symptoms in sensitive individuals.

Ground-level ozone: Ozone contributes to smog, the hazy sky you sometimes see hanging over metropolitan areas. This known lung irritant is more common in the summer when high temperatures and sunlight spur the chemical reaction needed to create it. Ozone can reduce lung function and make it more difficult to breathe deeply, especially if you have asthma.

Wildfire smoke: Hot, dry conditions can lead to forest fires. Smoke plumes from these blazes can travel hundreds of miles, lowering the air quality wherever they go. Your asthma symptoms could worsen if youre forced to breathe smoky air.

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Heat And Asthma: How Warming Temperatures Trigger Asthma

For many, the rise in temperature and humidity of summer in Fort Myers also brings out allergy and asthma symptoms but why? The answer is a little more complicated than you think.

Researchers have found that heated air could be a trigger for asthma because heat stress affects the physiology of your airways. Usually this temperature is higher than what most people encounter outside of heat waves, so other factors contribute as well.

The humidity of a Fort Myers summer alone could trigger asthma. Humid air is thought to be heavier and harder to breathe, but it also harbors pathogens like dust mites and mold that thrive in dark, moist environments. Other factors such as pollen from plants that thrive during the summer can also trigger allergy and asthma.

Summer also brings a seasonal increase in smog and other pollutants in the air due to a lack of winds and increased travel. The two key air pollutants to be aware of are ozone found in smog and particle pollution found in smoke. Ozone is at its worst on hot summer afternoons and evenings while particle pollution can be found year round.

Minimizing exposure to these triggers is the best way to avoid asthma episodes. Dr. Imtiaz Ahmad, with Allergy Sleep & Lung Care in Fort Myers explains how:

For more information about how to manage your asthma symptoms, call Allergy Sleep & Lung Care at 437-6670.

Consider Moving Your Workout Indoors

Dehydration Negatively Affects Your Mind And Body

If you normally exercise outdoors, consider switching your routine. And if you cant resist that jog around the park, head out during the warmest part of the day.

Whats more, If you have exercise-induced asthma, your doctor may prescribe an inhaled bronchodilator that contains , that you will use about 30 minutes before exercising outside, Dr. Berger says. Those symptoms can be even worse when you work out in cold air.

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What Is The Connection Between Humidity And Asthma

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Weather, any time of the year, is not a friend to people with asthma. But hot, humid days can be some of the most challenging weather conditions we have to contend with.

Have you noticed that your breathing gets worse on days when the humidity rises over 50%? If so, you’re not alone.

I know that during the 30 years I lived in southern New Jersey, my asthma was definitely a lot worse than it’s been in the 3 years I’ve lived in southwestern Colorado. New Jersey, right on the Atlantic coast, has much higher humidity levels than the high desert and mountains of my current home. I especially felt the effects of heat and humidity during the summer allergy season.

How Heat Can Affect Your Copd

Your body is always working to maintain a normal body temperature. When you are exposed to extreme weather conditions, such as extreme heat and humidity, your body must use extra energy to try and cool down. This extra energy causes your body to work harder.

If you have COPD, you are already using much of your energy just to breathe. When you are in extreme heat your body uses more energy while working hard to keep your normal body temperature. If it gets too hot, this can affect a persons breathing.

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Weather Changes And Asthma

From high heat and humidity levels in the summer, to cold, dry air in the winter, the weather can have an impact on your asthma. Limiting your exposure to extreme weather will help keep your asthma symptoms under control.

While the weather can be unpredictable, you can stay prepared. Understand how and why specific weather conditions affect your asthma symptoms, and how to navigate the season while minimizing your flare-ups.

Did you know?

In the fall of 2016, strong thunderstorms in Australia reportedly caused a number of asthma attacks that resulted in over 8,000 emergency room visits in Melbourne.

Tips To Manage Asthma In The Summer

How does asthma work? – Christopher E. Gaw

If you discover that heat, humidity, summer air pollution, and other factors set off your asthma, try these strategies to help prevent flare-ups:

Stay indoors during heat waves: Avoid situations where you must inhale hot air. This means staying in a cool, air-conditioned building when its hotter than 85 degrees outside whenever possible.

Lower the indoor humidity: You cant control the weather, but you can keep your home environment comfortable. Running the air conditioner naturally dehumidifies the air, but this isnt always enough. If the humidity climbs above 50%, dust mites and mold could become a problem. Setting up a portable dehumidifier is an easy way to prevent excessive moisture.

Keep an eye on pollen counts: When levels become elevated, stay indoors and keep the windows closed.

Monitor the air quality index : Check your favorite weather app. You should find the current AQI, possibly even an air quality forecast for the day. If the index rises above 100, stay indoors if you can. If you must run errands, drive with the windows up and the AC set on recirculation mode.

Watch the weather forecast: If you know thunderstorms affect you, stay indoors before, during, and immediately after the storm.

Plan outdoor activities for earlier or later in the day: Most of the time, heat, humidity, poor air quality, and thunderstorms are more likely in the afternoon. Thats why mornings and evenings are typically the best times to be outside if you have asthma.

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Pollen Levels Are On The Rise

Starting in the spring, pollen levels begin to rise in the air you breathe. In the early to late spring, trees are blooming and sending out millions of pollen particles. Then late spring into summer, when hot temperatures are first beginning to be felt, depending on where you live, it’s grass pollen. And finally, in late summer, when temps are often at their highest levels, it’s weed pollen that is in play.3

If you have allergic asthma, pollen can be a powerful trigger. I know it’s one of my worst asthma triggers.

Heat Humidity And Asthma Symptoms

Hot, humid air may trigger asthma symptoms like coughing and shortness of breath. Keep summer asthma symptoms at bay with these tips.

People with mild asthma may find that when summer temperatures soar, along with humidity levels, their asthma symptoms begin to act up. Breathing in such hot environments could lead to coughing and shortness of breath, suggests research reported in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine. The researchers found that a room temperature of about 71 degrees Fahrenheit did not trigger asthma symptoms, but breathing in super-hot air at 120 degrees F did. They concluded that summer asthma exacerbations could be due, in part, to heat stress that affects the physiology of your airways and leads to an asthma reaction. At the same time, you might trace episodes of summer asthma to smog and other environmental pollutants.

Though its true the 120-degree temperatures used in the study arent typical outside of desert areas, temperatures can approach that peak almost anywhere during intense heat waves. So when the sun is calling and youre itching to go outdoors, remember the risks summers heat and humidity pose.

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