Managing Asthma During the Summer Months
While warmer weather is happily welcomed after a cold winter, summer brings various factors that can negatively affect those living with asthma. We caught up with Dr. Christopher J. Gasaway of Cameron Family Medicine to learn more about how to manage asthma during summer activities.
What is Asthma?
Asthma can range in severity and looks different from person to person. It’s important to have a general understanding of asthma so you can spot it in yourself and notice if someone around you is struggling.
Asthma is inflammation and obstruction of the airways in the lungs. With an asthma attack, inflammation causes the small muscles of these airways to tighten. This leads to difficulty moving air in and out of the lungs, making it harder to breathe.
The most common symptoms of asthma include coughing, shortness of breath, chest tightness, wheezing and trouble sleeping. Symptoms can last minutes, hours or even days. Some asthma attacks will resolve on their own without medicine while others require treatment.
What Causes Asthma?
The causes of asthma can vary but often include one or multiple of the items listed below.
Pollen, heat, humidity, bonfires, and air pollution are just a few triggers that can make the summer months more difficult. Dr. Gasaway recommends checking the weather ahead of each day and paying special attention to the pollen level, wind, humidity, and forecasted air quality to determine the best times to be outside.
How to Safely Exercise with Asthma
If you’re planning to exercise outside, early morning is usually better since ozone levels are normally low. If the air quality is forecasted to be poor, consider replacing outdoor activities with indoor equivalents. If there are multiple changes in temperature or humidity during the day, avoid those times of fluctuation when making your exercise plan.
Exercise and exertion in general can obstruct the airways. However, there are no specific exercises that initiate asthma problems more than others. The environment is usually the most common cause of asthma symptoms. It is important to have good control of asthma symptoms before trying strenuous workouts.
Creating an Asthma Action Plan
At Cameron, we encourage patients to develop an asthma action plan. To help prepare you for and avoid asthma attacks under any circumstances, a provider will work alongside you to create the plan and update it as needed.
Some considerations to include in your action plan to decrease your likelihood of asthma symptoms during exercise include:
- Starting your workout with a warm-up period.
- Using your rescue inhaler 15 minutes before warming up if you often experience symptoms during exercise.
- Limiting strenuous activities outside when the air quality rating for the day is unhealthy (orange or above on the air quality rating scale).
- Exercise indoors if the air quality is red, purple, or maroon on the scale.
- Spending a few minutes cooling down after your exercise.
- Exercising in shorter bursts of activity for a few minutes at a time.
If you are experiencing symptoms like coughing, chest tightness, shortness of breath or wheezing, schedule an appointment with Cameron Family Medicine to discuss further assessment. If you already have an asthma diagnosis and your symptoms are not well controlled or worsening, make a follow-up appointment to consider adjusting your asthma management plan.
Don’t let asthma get in the way of enjoying warm weather. If you are struggling to manage your asthma, schedule an appointment with Dr. Gasaway today by visiting CameronMCH.com/find-a-specialist-schedule or calling 260-667-5556.