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Thursday, July 25, 2013

Heat and Humidity can Worsen Allergy, Asthma Symptoms



The summer can be a difficult time for those with allergies and asthma. There are certain types of environments that increase pollen levels, as well as environments that make it challenging for individuals with asthma. The extreme heat and humidity can make worsen symptoms for both conditions. Knowing the types of environments that create high pollen levels or cause breathing difficulties can help you to be more prepared when going outdoors this summer.

Allergies

Seasonal allergies occur during the spring, summer, and/or fall, depending on which type of pollens a person is allergic to. Trees pollinate during the spring while grasses pollinate in the summer. Weeds and molds usually pollinate in the fall. Knowing the type of environment certain pollens thrive in, and at what time of the day, will help to prevent allergy symptoms.

Heat: Pollen levels are at their highest on days of extreme heat. The higher the temperature, the higher the pollen level will be.

Humidity: Although humidity can make the temperature feel warmer, it actually moistens pollens and weighs them down so they are unable to travel through the air. This reduces pollen levels. Therefore, allergy sufferers should beware of dry, hot days, rather than humid days.

Rain: As with the humidity, rain moistens pollens and weighs them down. However, a thunderstorm can actually stir up pollens due to high wind speeds.

Wind: As previously mentioned the wind stirs up pollens and allows them to travel through the air causing a spike in pollen counts.

Time of day: During the spring, trees and other plants tend to pollinate at midday or in the afternoon. During the summer, grasses pollinate between 8:00 am and noon, and again between 5:00 pm and 9:00 pm.

Therefore, seasonal allergy sufferers should try to avoid going outdoors on hot, dry and windy days, especially during the times of pollination. Humid or rainy days are more favorable, but you should still be prepared when going outdoors. Take the medications prescribed by allergists, wear sunglasses to keep pollens out of eyes, and wear allergy masks to prevent breathing in pollens. Keep the AC on indoors on hot days to clean the air of pollens that have snuck inside. You could also use air purifiers to eliminate allergens from interior settings.

While humidity may reduce the amount of pollen in the air, mold spores thrive in humidity. Those allergic to mold spores should be prepared when going outdoors on humid or rainy days.

Asthma

Asthma and allergy conditions are often related. This is because some allergy symptoms include coughing, wheezing, or asthma attacks. Therefore, those with severe seasonal allergies should refrain from going outdoors for long periods of time during the summer and should use their inhaler before going outside.

However, those actually diagnosed with asthma, must be careful during the summer months in general. Hot and humid days make the air thicker and harder to breathe, which can cause an asthma attack. According to abcnews.com, “heat and humidity create thermal inversions that trap allergic particulates and ozone close to earth, which makes hot and humid days dangerous for people with lung problems.” Asthmatic individuals should not leave the house without their inhalers, or other asthma treatment. They should also keep cool and stay hydrated, because becoming overheated makes the body work harder and require more oxygen.  

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