Tips for Coping With Seasonal Asthma Symptoms
Seasonal asthma doesn’t always announce itself with a timely warning. You may find yourself unprepared when asthma catches up with you and literally takes your breath away.
Maybe you’ve been affected by seasonal asthma before, maybe you’ve only recently become afflicted, but being unable to breathe is one of the most alarming and unsettling experiences you can face.
What Is Asthma?
Asthma happens because your airways are swollen and the muscles around them stiffen up. Inhaling a sufficient amount of air becomes difficult and frustrating (and rather frightening). With asthma, trying to breathe in enough oxygen is like trying to suck a thick milkshake through a thin straw.
When you can’t get the air you need, the result is breathlessness, chest tightness, coughing, and wheezing. These are chameleon symptoms – how they affect you can change with each onset, ranging from a mild to a serious reaction.
The typical culprits for these symptoms are allergies, air irritants (such as tobacco smoke, pollution, and strong fumes), exercise-induced bronchoconstriction, anxiety/stress, viral and bacterial infections, and weather changes.
Asthma and the Seasons
Each season contributes their share of asthma irritants.
Spring brings the onset of beautiful weather, but also brings pollen – tree pollen comes about in early spring and a couple months later, grass pollen season kicks in.
In summer, humid air from heat waves trap pollutants in the air, making them become more concentrated, and there is generally poorer air quality due to things like traffic and smoke from forest fires. Ragweed allergies flare up at the end of summer and into autumn as well.
In fall, respiratory tract infections aggravate the chronic lung inflammation in asthmatics, making their cold/flu more severe, last for a longer duration, and instill respiratory problems.
The cold, dry winter air can also cause asthma flare-ups. Keeping the house warm when it’s cold outside also contributes to indoor allergens like dust mites, mold, and smoke (from wood-burning stoves or fireplaces).
The number of ways seasonal asthma can get you may seem daunting, but there are ways that you can take care of yourself to keep your symptoms in line, including medication and prevention.
Types of Medication
Pop culture likes to depict a person who suffers from asthma as a “nerd” type, but this is seldom the case. In reality, it can affect a vast spectrum of people from introverted bibliophiles to marathon runners.
Anyone who has experienced asthma likely has tried some form of inhaler, bronchodilators, or anti-inflammatories.
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Bronchodilators are a quick-relief medication that opens up the airways for ease of breath. This can be a preventative action if you know that you experience symptoms brought on by exercise.
Short-term medication like this is a useful thing to keep on hand if you suffer from seasonal asthma; if you start to feel a flare-up, use your puffer to keep it from becoming a full-symptom attack.
Long-term medications are taken daily for people who suffer from symptoms on a more constant basis.
How You Can Manage Your Seasonal Asthma Symptoms
The best thing you can do is stay on top of your condition; talk to your physician, specialist, or allergist to help inform yourself about the severity, treatments, and triggers for your asthma.
You’ll be able to identify when it will be a minor episode (easily managed), or if your symptoms are worse. It will be a benefit to your health care providers if you can articulate how your symptoms change. Always be self-aware.
The obvious advice on the best way to manage your symptoms is to take measures to avoid your asthma triggers. This isn’t always easy or reasonable, especially if you are an avid lover of the outdoors. Asthma requires continuous management to minimize the severity of episodes. You will want to keep short-term medication on hand for the prevention and control of your symptoms.
Communicate your condition with family and friends. It can be a little difficult for some people to breach this subject, but it’s important for others to be aware of the condition and how they can help you when the symptoms occur.
Remember, nobody chooses to have asthma, so don’t be embarrassed or consider this a weakness; talking about your condition shows your strength.
Take an allergy test to determine what your triggers are. Rather than attempt to guess, this will give you a much better starting point to avoid what bothers you.
Keep in mind that asthma is not a constant issue. Your symptoms – and their severity – are prone to change. Be sure to communicate these issues to your physician, so your medication can be kept up-to-date and will be able to handle your symptoms.
In winter, wear a scarf around your face if cold, dry air is one of your triggers. Get an annual flu shot; any prevention you can take against cold/flu season will help avoid respiratory distress caused by another virus.
Be sure to apply the above tips to your life to manage your condition. By actively taking control of your seasonal asthma, you won’t have to face your next attack unprepared, or you may avoid it altogether.