Coping With Asthma in the Spring
Asthma symptoms can occur any time of the year. Symptoms may include wheezing, chest tightness, and trouble breathing. Various factors can trigger an asthma attack including allergies, which may explain why asthma symptoms can be worse certain times of the year.
Why Are Asthma Symptoms Often Worse in the Spring?
Even if your asthma is usually well controlled, symptoms may start to flare-up during the spring. The reason is asthma and allergies are strongly associated, and springtime is prime allergy season.
According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, about two-thirds of people with asthma also have allergies. Common symptoms of allergies include congestion, sneezing, and runny nose. Allergy symptoms are uncomfortable for anyone. But in people that also have asthma, they can be even worse. Allergy symptoms can trigger an asthma attack.
One of the most common allergens is pollen, which is in abundance during the spring season. In the spring, as the flowers and trees bloom, pollen is released into the air. Unfortunately, pollen sticks around for a long time. Tree pollen is usually in the air at the start of the spring season in late March. As tree pollen starts to dissipate, grass pollen peaks around May and June.
If you are allergic to pollen, you probably know what to expect. Your nose starts running, and your eyes itch. Pollen allergies can also make asthma symptoms flair in the spring.
A sudden change in temperature and humidly can also increase asthma symptoms in some people. Spring usually does not bring the cold temps like the winter or extremely high temperatures that occur in the summer. But springtime may mean varied temps that are fluctuating between hot and cold. Even a small increase in temperature and humidly levels can wreak havoc on people with sensitive airways.
A ten-degree increase in temperature or an increase of 10 percent in humidly can cause an increase in asthma-related emergency room visits.
Spring-Related Asthma Symptoms
Some people experience a combination of allergy and asthma symptoms. Symptoms may start shortly after a person is exposed to an allergen. In the spring, that may mean going outside on days when the pollen count is high.
Typical spring asthma and allergy symptoms may include:
- Itchy nose
- Watery eyes
- Chest tightness
- Shortness of breath
Home Remedies/Treatments for Seasonal Asthma
It’s important to manage seasonal asthma to prevent a serious attack. The following treatments and remedies may help.
- Determine allergens: One of the best ways you can treat seasonal asthma is by identifying your allergens. If symptoms flare in the spring, it’s likely you are allergic to pollen. But mold may also increase in the spring, which can be an allergen. An allergist can perform testing to determine the exact cause. Once you identify what you are allergic to, you can take steps to decrease your exposure. For example, if you’re allergic to pollen, limit time outdoors when the pollen count is high. Use an air conditioner to cool your home instead of opening windows.
- Shower when you come in from outdoors: When you are outside, pollen can attach to your clothes, hair, and skin. If you go to bed without showering, you continue to be exposed to the allergen. Taking a shower as soon as you get home washes off the pollen and may decrease allergens on your body resulting in fewer seasonal asthma symptoms.
- Take your asthma medication as prescribed: It’s important to take your asthma medication as prescribed any time of the year. But if your asthma tends to become worse in the spring, it is even more essential. If you do not take a long-term controller medication, you may want to discuss it with your doctor.
- Consider allergy shots: Depending on how severe your allergies are, you may want to consider allergy shots. Getting allergy shots involves receiving a series of injections, which contain a small amount of the allergen. As you are continually exposed to the allergen, your body becomes desensitized to the substance, which decreases an allergic response.
- Try a neti pot: Using a neti pot involves irrigating your nose with sterile water and salt solution. Irrigating the nose with a net pot flushes pollen and other allergens out of the nose, which can decrease seasonal allergy symptoms. Be sure to use distilled or sterile water. Avoid using tap water, which can contain bacteria. Use one cup distilled water and a teaspoon of salt. Tilt your head to one side and pour the water from the pot into the nostril. It should flow out the opposite side of your nose. Switch and irrigate the other side.
- Follow your asthma action plan: You should have an asthma action plan that you developed with your doctor. Your plan should cover tracking asthma symptoms, strategies to avoid allergens, and taking medications properly. It should also include how to recognize and respond to worsening symptoms.