This post was written by Heather Willison, MSN, FNP-C, PPG – Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.
I enjoy a beautiful sunny day just like anyone else, but the recent high temperatures have felt downright uncomfortable. Unfortunately, these heat waves can be even more troublesome for those with asthma, as heat can trigger breathing difficulties.
How heat triggers asthma symptoms
Heat and humidity tend to go hand-in-hand, making the air “heavier” and more difficult to breathe. Also, the heat causes body temperature to rise, and before long, you’re sweating. When you sweat, you are at risk of becoming dehydrated, which in turn causes you to breathe faster, triggering asthma symptoms. Again, the airways narrow, resulting in coughing, wheezing or shortness of breath.
Treating asthma in summer
Considering we are at the start of summer, I’m certain that we have many more hot days ahead of us this season. Here are some tips to help asthma patients beat the heat:
- Plan ahead by checking weather forecasts for air quality conditions and predicted temperatures.
- Staying hydrated is key – drink plenty of water.
- Some days it just may be too darn hot to spend outside, unless you are submerged in a cool pool or body of water.
- Of course, making sure that your asthma is well controlled to begin with is an essential part of asthma management. Make certain to take your asthma controller medications on a regular basis and keep rescue medications within reach (i.e., albuterol, levalbuterol).
- Asthma inhalers have been known to explode if they are stored in areas reaching 120 degrees F. Keep your asthma inhalers out of direct sunlight and out of the heat. The glove compartment of your car is not a good place to stow your inhaler. Keep your inhaler in a cool place and close by if needed.
- If you have outdoor activities planned, try to schedule them earlier in the day. This will help avoid being outside during the hottest times of the day.
- Consider speaking with your asthma provider ahead of the season to discuss treatment options if you know that your asthma is more difficult to control during hot months. The goal is to work with your provider to ensure that your asthma is well-controlled and interferes with your daily life as little as possible.
Work with your provider and make a plan so that you can enjoy the fleeting months of summer as much as possible.