Healthline: Asthma—Why It Can Be Worse During the Summer
Asthma causes inflammation in the lungs and narrowing in the airways, making it hard to breathe. A common condition, especially among those living in polluted environments, asthma causes increased sensitivity in the airways. Even a change in temperature can trigger an attack, Mosenifar told Healthline.
“Environmental triggers play a big role. In the summertime, the temperature rises and there are more pollutants and fume particles in the air,” said Mosenifar, a Cedars-Sinai professor of Medicine.
As the weather becomes warmer, staying indoors can help because the ideal temperature for controlling asthma is between 68 and 71 degrees. “I recommend that people go exercising indoors, or late in the day if they have to go out. Stay away from pollens, particularly between April and July in some parts of the country,” Mosenifar told Healthline.
Asthma-related hospital visits actually dropped during the first summer of the pandemic amid stay-at-home orders. “During COVID-19 there were less asthma exacerbations because a lot of people stayed indoors. There was less traffic and less air pollution. Mask wearing—particularly N95 masks—also helps out in terms of exposure to pollutants,” Mosenifar told Healthline.
Along with high summer temperatures, pollen, pollutants, smoking and secondhand smoke can be irritating the body, leading to asthma attacks. Mosenifar recommended avoiding smoking and smokers to further limit exposure to triggers.
A physician can prescribe two different types of inhalers to treat asthma: maintenance inhalers (to manage chronic inflammation) and rescue inhalers (for acute emergencies). Patients should use these medications as prescribed to avoid side effects; overdoing the rescue inhaler can lead to tachycardia (fast heart rhythm). If symptoms worsen, always consult a physician.
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