8 Summer-Related Asthma Mistakes to Avoid

Summer Asthma
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Summer can be difficult for some asthmatics. The heat, humidity, and changing weather can make it more difficult to breathe and keep your asthma control in check. Extreme weather can also wreak havoc on your asthma and lead to an increased use of your rescue inhaler as well as wheezing, chest tightness, cough, and shortness of breath.

While you can’t do a whole lot to control the weather, make sure that you at least avoid these 8 mistakes this summer:

1. Sleeping With Your Pet

While your pet may be cute and cuddly, sleeping with a dog, cat, or other pet is not a great idea if you have asthma. Even if you do not think the pet makes your asthma worse, you should try to make your bedroom an allergy-free zone.

Pets who spend time outdoors can carry a whole host of allergens and triggers on their hair, including dust, pollen, and mold. If you let your pet in the bedroom, you are essentially attracting triggers to where you lay down to rest.

While it’s best to not have pets at all (some say this is an extreme position, but it does work), an outside-only pet or restricting your pet's access to areas where you spend a lot of time is also an option that works for many people. You may ultimately need allergy shots if you cannot work this out and continue to have asthma symptoms. If you do not yet have a pet, consider ones that do not worsen allergies and are significantly less likely trigger symptoms, such as fish, turtles, snakes, and hermit crabs.

2. Getting a Hypoallergenic Pet

Unfortunately, the myth of hypoallergenic pets continues to be propagated. This theory was propagated further when President Obama's daughters were promised a dog when he became president. 

All pets shed a certain amount of dander per week—although some are better than others.

Dander are the proteins from skin flakes, urine, feces, and saliva that trigger the allergic cascade in your body as opposed to what people commonly think causes asthma problems—animal hair.

3. Sleeping in Down

Many people like down comforters in the summer because they are light weight and cool to the skin. The feathers, however, are very allergenic. Synthetic fibers are a much better choice for your asthma.

4. Leaving Windows Open

By keeping windows closed and using the recirculate feature on your air conditioner, you can significantly cut down on your pollen exposure. When you leave windows open, pollen and other allergens will end up in your home.

5. Ignoring Pollen Counts

While this can be difficult in some parts of the country due to nearly all year long counts that are high, elevated pollen counts can act as an asthma trigger. Most weather and radio stations can tell you if it is going to be a high or low pollen count day.

You can also check out this same information at your local weather website. If pollen counts are high, it is probably better for you to say indoors as much as possible or at least at the times of day when pollen is most likely to be bad. There are a number of available resources to check on pollen counts.

Likewise, exercising at the wrong time can lead to a number of challenges related to your asthma control. Running in the later afternoon and evening is better as pollen counts tend to peak in the late morning and early afternoon/evening.

6. Accumulating Clutter

Clutter equals dust. Dust often equals poor asthma control. The more toys you have sitting around, the more dust that gets collected to potentially trigger your asthma. If your child absolutely has to have one, limiting the number of toys is a really good idea.

If your kids have favorite stuffed animals or cloth/fabric toys, they need to be washed in warm water periodically.

You also need to consider periodically wiping down all the others, especially if they are infrequently played with.

7. Ignoring Symptoms & Your Asthma Action Plan 

Patients sometimes want to wish away their asthma. Unfortunately, this will not work. Closely monitoring your asthma is really the only way you can keep tabs on how your asthma is doing.

Make sure you review your asthma action plan frequently so that it is up-to-date and you know what you are doing. That which you do not measure or track, you cannot change. If you do not do peak flows, then consider an action plan that monitors symptoms instead.

Likewise, take a minute and think if you are letting asthma manage your life and not doing certain things you want to do? If the answer is yes, then you need to consider a discussion with your doctor.

8. Not Taking Your Medicine

Many patients who have achieved good control and start to feel better, may stop taking their medication. It is not a good idea to do this without consulting your doctor. Asthma is controlled, but never really goes away. As such, if you stop your meds, inflammation and symptoms will likely not be far behind.

Source:

National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. February 28, 2016. Expert Panel Report 3 (EPR3): Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Management of Asthma

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