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Asthma is an inflammatory condition. Weather changes can affect asthma for some patients so it is important for them to learn about how weather affects asthma. Known weather-related asthma triggers include humidity, cold air and thunderstorms. Temperature changes can also play a role and cause airway inflammation.
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Common Weather Triggers
There are several different common weather triggers. Wind can blow mold and pollen around and rain can can stir up and increase mold spores.
Fluctuations in air pressure can trigger sinus episodes. Asthma symptoms are commonly triggered by sinusitis.
During the hotter months of the year, or hotter regions of the country, increased ozone from exhaust fumes, pollutants and smog can trigger asthma symptoms because they are typically higher.
Lightning is thought to trigger asthma symptoms. Lightning associated with thunderstorms, specifically, due to ozone generation.
Cold air can trigger asthma. Asthmatic patients may experience more symptoms during the colder weather.
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In learning how weather affects asthma, it is important to learn about trigger management. Managing weather-related asthma is similar to managing asthma caused by other triggers. Patients should first begin by identifying their triggers. For example, one patient may not do well in cold, but may be okay in the heat. However, one patient may be okay in cold, but suffer in the heat. Once triggers are identified, they have to be avoided whenever possible. Of course, weather surrounds us so it is hard to avoid it completely, but avoiding the specific weather that affects you when possible should be done.
Those bothered by cold should wear a scarf when they go outside and stay indoors as much as possible, especially in the very bitter cold weather. Air conditioning may also bother those triggered by cold, so make sure air temperature indoors does not drop too low when using air conditioning.
Those bothered by heat, should stay in a controlled environment when possible. Stay inside on hot days and make sure internal temperatures are comfortable.
Patients should keep ahead of the weather. Use weather updates and the news to keep an eye on weather forecasts. Know what the weather is going to be so you can be prepared. In addition to the temperature, also keep an eye on the forecast for humidity, ozone reports, rain, storms, air pressure changes and other weather-related issues.
Of course, keep an inhaler around at all times. Also, when an inhaler is not helping, call 911 and get emergency medical attention.
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TeensHealth from Nemours. (2011). The Weather-Asthma Connection. Retrieved on April 4, 2011 from TeensHealth from Nemours: http://kidshealth.org/teen/asthma_center/treatment/weather_asthma.html
MedicineNet. (2011). Asthma Complexities. Retrieved on April 4, 2011 from MedicineNet: http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?li=1FF8MNI&articlekey=16880&page=8
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Inhaler: sxc.hu - nickwinch