5 Asthma Triggers to Watch out for in August
Late summer and early fall can cause a lot of anxiety, and even dangerous levels of inflammation, for many asthma sufferers. Though the culmination of allergy season is the “September Spike,” a time in which hospitals and clinics swell with allergic asthmatics, we should remember that August is often when these symptoms start. Watching out for these 5 environmental triggers will help make late summer far easier, and could even help you avoid being a September Spike statistic.
1. High humidity (50% or greater) combined with hotter temperatures
Some asthmatics have difficulty in the winter with cold, dry air, but others (including myself) have a strong reaction to the opposite: hot, humid air. Little is known regarding why humid summer weather causes lung inflammation, but we know one factor is that humidity traps ozone and particulate matter, which when breathed in can trigger attacks. If you’re an asthmatic sensitive to hot, humid days, avoid exercise in the middle of the day, and instead do your most grueling tasks in the morning or evening when heat is less of a factor.
2. Increased smog and air pollution
Remember that smell of asphalt baking when you were a kid? A number of air pollutants are more prevalent in the summer months, especially during days with a lot of direct sunlight and low wind. The EPA has a color-coded program that will give air-quality readings every day so you can carry your inhaler on difficult days. You can also get more information on air pollution and asthma from the AAFA.
3. Pollen from grass, weeds, trees, and flowers are at the highest levels
August is a pollen-heavy month, with grass, weeds, trees, and flowers reaching their highest levels. For those with allergies (75% of asthmatics), it can be very helpful to know pollen counts (you can get a pollencast here) and also make sure you have allergy medication handy.
4. Increased mold growth
Humidity and heat are great friends to mold, and during August indoor and outdoor mold are significantly increased. There isn’t much that can be done about outdoor mold, but inside it’s important to keep things clean and make sure to check that there is no mold living in your walls (that can be very dangerous).
5. Increased indoor dust mite counts
You know, humidity is a terrible thing. In addition to affecting air pollution and mold, humidity also increases dust mite counts. Since August is often very humid, pillow and mattress encasements are crucial for those with a dust allergy (which is virtually all asthmatics). In addition, it’s important to maintain a clean environment with an emphasis on keeping stuffed animals and plush toys dust-free. If you’re interested, the ALA has some helpful information about dust, including cleaning tips.