Avoiding an Asthma Attack
Tips on Keeping Your Asthma at Bay
Did you know that high ozone levels can trigger asthma? It’s true, and so can high humidity and even strong winds. For 20 million Americans who experience asthma, these common weather occurrences can be a problem.
Unfortunately, once you have asthma, you usually have it for life; it’s considered a chronic disease. It’s also more serious than many people think: about 5,000 deaths are attributed to asthma annually.
An asthma attack is characterized by inflammation of the bronchial tubes. In an attack, these tubes narrow as the muscles around them tighten. The production of excess mucus is often a factor as well. And don’t think that having mild asthma protects you; even those who believe their asthma is not severe can experience life-threatening episodes at the hands of environmental irritants.
Approximately 60% of all asthma attacks result from environmental triggers such as smoke, pollen and animal dander. While asthma sufferers may be able to minimize their exposure to these irritants, pollen and smog exposure are often unavoidable, and can therefore be very dangerous.
If you’re an asthma sufferer, or you know one, here are some summer-time tips to help you manage your condition as effectively as possible:
- Be sure to watch your local weather reports! You’ll get the most accurate information on ozone levels, temperature changes, high humidity, high winds and other factors that could cause an asthma attack.
- If it’s hot, don’t exercise outside. Strenuous exercise can be very dangerous for asthmatics in high heat. You are better off with sports that require only short bursts of high activity, such as baseball. Walking is also a “safe” sport for most asthmatics. Don’t stop exercising because you have asthma; instead get the right training and medical help.
- Maintain your medication schedule. If your recommended dosage or schedule is not working for you, consult with your doctor.
- Air conditioning is a must. It will help to keep the temperature and humidity down in your home, and will help purify the air. These factors are important for all asthmatics.
- Stay away from smoke! If you are outdoors at a campfire, try to avoid sitting in the path of the smoke. Similarly, if someone is smoking near you in a restaurant or on a patio, move as far away as possible.
- Don’t stand behind a running car; exhaust fumes can also be problematic for asthma sufferers.
- If you’re a camper, be sure to air out your tent. In fact, air out any confined space to ensure you aren’t exposed to mold.
- A nightly shower and hair-washing can be an easy way to control your exposure to allergens, and keep them out of your bed!
- If possible, leave your “outdoor” shoes outdoors. Or, if you have a mudroom or covered porch, leave your shoes there. Don’t bring those outdoor irritants in!
June 30, 2006
News Release, American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology