Every year, there are millions of Americans suffering from asthma-related conditions brought about by the start of the summer season.
The prevalence of mold and pollens found outdoors, along with transitional changes in humidity and temperature, as well as pollution, and smoke are issues for asthma sufferers. Notably, the recent climate changes kicked off by the early spring heat spell seems to have had a greater impact on allergy and asthma sufferers.
If you suffer from asthma and are struggling to maintain control of your condition, especially during the upcoming summer months, there are solutions that can bring you the relief you crave.
Essential Tips to Manage Asthmatic Conditions During The Summer Season
1) Reliever Inhalers: Asthma is a condition that is prone to the occasional “flare-up.” Often brought about by things such as hay fever season, strenuous exercise, cold air, chemical fumes, smoke from tobacco or wood, or even weather changes, asthma flare-up can happen anywhere and at any time.
As a consequence of the unpredictability surrounding asthma, many people carry “relief inhalers” with them to control symptoms as they occur. These types of inhalers are a component augmenting medication-based therapy regimes for the condition. Best prescribed for those with only mild forms of asthma, relief inhalers are usually enough to provide relief and comfort.
However, in cases where relief inhalers are being used excessively, current guidelines (as per the British Thoracic Society) suggest that if you need your reliever inhaler more than twice a week in the day-time or more than once a week at night or have had a severe attack in the last two years, you should be using a preventer (steroid) inhaler.
The bottom line: If your asthma worsens in the summer months, using a relief inhaler on occasion will alleviate symptoms immediately. However, if you find yourself regularly using your relief inhaler during the summer (as per the guidelines stated above), your best course of preventative action may be using a preventer inhaler, stepping up again if symptoms recur.
2) Adjustment or Augmentation of Medication: To best prepare yourself for the upcoming summer months, consult with your doctor about adjusting your medication dosages or using an add-on therapy.
Current medical studies state that “when escalating therapy in uncontrolled asthma, the addition of non-steroid agents is favored over increasing to high dose ICS ( inhaled corticosteroids) for most patients.”
Having a visit with your doctor well in advance of the beginning of summer can give you ample time to consider the pros and cons of increasing the dose of your inhaled corticosteroid or conversely, adding on a non-steroid option.
Note: Visiting with your doctor when attempting to make this decision is of critical importance. Within the field of medicine, ICS therapy should be reduced to the lowest dose that maintains control of asthma conditions. The vast benefits of inhaled corticosteroids have been well established with minimal and uncommon side effects related to mild or moderate asthma.
However, in stark contrast, long-term, high-dose inhaled corticosteroid use can result in a litany of adverse effects such as cataracts, osteoporosis, adrenal axis suppression, oral candidiasis, dysphoria, hoarseness, and dermal bruising and thinning.
The bottom line: Consult with your doctor to determine if using an augmenting non-steroid treatment or short-term increased ICS dosing will be in your best interests.
3) Have an Asthma Action Plan in Place: Visit your doctor to discuss creating an Asthma Action Plan (AAP). If you already have an Asthma Action Plan in place, you and your doctor may make necessary updates or revisions to take into account the coming summer season and the resultant possibility of increased symptoms.
Your Asthma Action Plan is a written, individualized worksheet that shows you the steps to take to keep your asthma from getting worse. The plan also includes protocols to assist you in making the necessary determinations as to when to call your doctor or health care provider or to go to an emergency room.
The importance of your Asthma Action Plan cannot be overstated enough – it is your essential blueprint to address and minimize asthma flare-ups before they increase in severity.
While at this appointment, it’s prudent to request that your doctor evaluate the techniques you employ for your asthma devices. Whether you use a relief inhaler, preventer inhaler, or a nasal spray, your doctor can ensure that you are using them properly.
Improper use of asthma devices is relatively common issues that result in the persisting of asthma symptoms despite regular dosing.
The bottom line: Make sure you have an Asthma Action Plan to minimize symptoms before they increase in severity and require doctor or hospital visits. Also, ask that your doctor evaluate your inhaler (or other devices) technique to ensure that you are getting optimal use from your inhaler.
4) Keep Informed About the Air Quality Index: While inconsequential to most people, the Air Quality Index AQI) is of vast importance to people with asthma conditions. Typically reported on a local level, the AQI informs citizens about any hazardous outdoors conditions.
For asthma sufferers, this is an extremely useful tool to use in planning outings and vacations. A wildfire, for example, has a high probability of exuding large plumes of toxic smoke that can be disastrous for people with asthma conditions. Knowing beforehand of instances such as a wildfire enables people to make well-informed decisions to maintain the highest levels of health and safety.
The bottom line: Stay abreast of Air Quality Index reports for your local areas, as well as any areas you intend to visit.
5) Keep Windows Closed: Closing your windows at home, in your car, and (if possible) at work can help avoid the triggering of an asthma flare-up
In many areas, pollen levels can increase substantially during the summer. Johns Hopkins Hospital advises that during pollen season it is important that you keep all car and house windows closed and use the air conditioning.
Note: While air conditioning is ideal is ideal for asthma sufferers, it is important to regularly change out and clean air conditioner filters to keep them free of dust and debris to create an optimized indoors air quality level.
The bottom line: Make an effort to close windows at home, in the car, and at work, Rely on air conditioning to stay cool and comfortable, while ensuring that you regularly maintain your AC equipment for best results.
6) Consider Indoor Air Pollutants: Analyze the various components in your home that have the potential to exacerbate asthma issues.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency’s comprehensive list below, many indoors pollutants have been demonstrated to cause a bevy of detrimental effects on health.
Environmental Tobacco Smoke
Note: Professionals can be hired to inspect the levels of any of the elements above. Indoor air pollutants you can check yourself include mold, burning gas, fumes, wood burning, perfumes, and dust mite exposure.
The bottom line: Take a comprehensive inventory of possible indoors pollutants that can be further exacerbated during the hot summer months and ultimately affecting your health and safety.
7) Create an Asthma-Friendly Home: Maintaining a healthy, hypoallergenic environment at home with allergy-friendly products is paramount in maintaining the control of asthma symptoms for children and adults in the summer season, as well as the rest of the year.
Consider incorporating the following suggestions within your household to create an exceptional level of clean air quality:
Purchase an air cleaner to remove dust particles and a majority of other airborne elements
Refrain from using ceiling fans or electric fans which are prone to collecting a significant amount of dust
Avoid using humidifiers, as dust mites thrive in high humidity environments.
Use a dehumidifier to maintain humidity levels at less than fifty percent
Avoid using stuffed, upholstered furniture and instead, opt for wooden or other smooth-material furniture that can be easily cleaned
Summer is among the most exciting times of the year. Full of cheer and enthusiasm, adults and children alike love to take advantage of the endless opportunities and activities made possible by the warm weather, clear skies, and shining sun extending well into the early evening hours.
Asthma sufferers are no longer relegated to staying indoors in an effort to avoid flare-ups of their condition. With proper planning and the implementation of simple and easy steps, anyone with asthma can join their peers and family to enjoy all the splendors summer has to offer.