Summer Asthma Triggers

Last week in Roanoke saw a huge plunge in temperatures unusual for July, and this week has seen an uneven return of more normal temperatures and normal humidity levels.  It’s also corresponded with a sudden shortness-of-breath and allergy-attack feeling I’ve been having since Tuesday, so I thought I would check to see if there were any particular asthma triggers associated with the swing in temperatures.  Turns out, there is.  I’m not sure what I was feeling was my old asthma – I haven’t had an attack in a very long time – but the information here may nonetheless be useful.

Following are a few surprising summer allergy and asthma triggers, as well as some suggestions for coping with them, courtesy of ACAAI.

  • Summer fruits and veggies. An otherwise healthy snack can mean an oral allergy syndrome for people whose lips begin to tingle after sinking their teeth into a juicy peach – or melon, apple, celery and other fresh fruits and vegetables. People with common grass allergies can suffer from this condition, which is a cross-reaction between similar proteins in certain fruits and vegetables and the allergy-causing grass, tree or weed pollens. The simple solution is to avoid the offending food, or just put up with the annoying but short-lived (and seldom dangerous) reaction. If symptoms are bothersome, see an allergist to identify the offending pollen and develop a treatment plan to find relief.

  • Changes in the weather. Be it stifling humidity or a refreshing cool breeze, sudden changes in the weather can trigger an asthma attack. Wind can spread pollen and stir up mold, affecting those who suffer from grass or tree pollen and mold allergies. Allergists are experts in diagnosing and treating allergic and asthmatic diseases, and can develop asthma action plans to ensure diseases are kept in check no matter the season or the temperature.

  • Campfire smoke. Toasting marshmallows or sitting out at a bonfire is a lot less fun if it results in an asthma attack. Smoke is a common asthma trigger. Sit upwind of the smoke and avoid getting too close to help prevent an asthma flair-up.

  • Stinging insects. As if the pain isn’t bad enough, it is possible to develop a life-threatening allergic reaction to the sting of yellow jackets, honey bees, wasps, hornets and fire ants. Coverup when gardening or working outdoors, avoid brightly colored clothing, forget the perfume and take caution when eating or drinking anything sweet, all of which attract stinging insects. Be especially careful with open soft drink cans. An allergist might advise carrying epinephrine for emergency relief in the event of being stung. See an allergist for skin testing to identify the offending insect and ask about. Allergy shots which can provide life-saving protection.

  • Chlorine. Although not an allergen, the smell of chlorine from pools or hot tubs can be an irritant and cause flairs of either allergy-like eye and nose symptoms or asthma in some people.

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