As the summer heat and humidity rise, people with asthma and diabetes may experience exaggerated symptoms. Breathing in the humid summer environment can lead to shortness of breath, coughing and more. Discover more about asthma and summer breathing conditions with diabetes and what you can do to keep symptoms in check.
- According to research reported by the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, asthma symptoms appeared in extremely hot temperatures, such as 120 degrees Fahrenheit. They were not triggered in a room with a temperature of around 71 degrees. Researchers concluded asthma symptoms could happen due to heat stress as well as humidity, smog and environmental pollutants that linger in the warm summer air. Heat and humidity are also the ideal conditions for allergens to breed, such as dust mites and mold. This can aggravate your allergies and asthma. Similar symptoms start to occur in pediatric patients at about 86 degrees.
- Try to stay cool in the increasing spring and summer heat. If you work outdoors, ask for an alternative assignment on the hottest days. Stay indoors during the warmest hours between 10 am -4 pm. Stay in an air conditioned environment as much as possible. Talk to your doctor about asthma control as the air starts to heat up and get more humid. Ask your doctor about changing your medication dose and/or scheduling until the temperature cools down. Find out about using a portable nebulizer to administer medication on-the-spot and instantly relieve asthma symptoms.
- The stress of asthma can make your blood sugar levels raise. The oral steroids sometimes prescribed to treat asthma can also make your blood sugar soar. Discuss your medications with your health care team to find the best possible solutions. Your asthma may also have an allergic component. Inquire about skin testing, a RAST blood test and other tests, such as a check of your lgE level, to find out if you have allergic asthma. One possible therapy is omalizumab (Xolair), which is administered by injection to prevent the release of substances that result in asthma symptoms and inflammation. Your blood sugar levels and other diabetes-related symptoms can be aggravated by stress and inflammation. The goal is to reduce both by minimizing your asthma symptoms in the spring and summer.
- Be aware of the air quality index each day. The local news offers this information. You can also download an app on your Smartphone to find out the air quality index or check online. Try to stay indoors when the air quality is poor. If you are driving, keep the windows closed and put on the air conditioning in the car. This will reduce pollutants from getting inside. Stay indoors with the air conditioning on during the hottest and most humid days. If you need to go out, run errands earlier in the day, before the uncomfortable conditions set in.
- The pool can be a great way to stay cool and get essential exercise by swimming or just walking. However, some people find their asthma symptoms are triggered by the chlorine used in pools to keep them clean. If your symptoms are aggravated by chlorine, find a different exercise program. Consider taking an indoor exercise class in an air conditioned environment, such as aerobics, Zumba, Tai chi or yoga. Workout at a local gym or take a stroll through an air conditioned mall or big box store to meet your daily exercise goals.
- It is impossible to control the weather outdoors, but you can control the environment in your own home. Set your indoor humidity level to 50 percent to lower or reduce allergens that grow in moist, warm conditions. Use a dehumidifier to reduce the moisture in the air. Consider using an air filter tower as well.
- The spring is pollen season, an allergen that can inflame your airways and lead to asthma attacks. The pollen count is highest between 4:00AM and 10:00AM. Try to go out later in the day and stay indoors in the air conditioning during these hours. Though the pollen season ends in the summer, the heat and humidity can become a problem. The air quality also tends to be poorer in the summer, especially in urban areas. Sunlight and pollution from traffic can produce ozone, which may trigger your asthma symptoms. Thunderstorms can also be an asthma trigger due to gusty winds that stir up fungal and mold spores. In August, ragweed season starts as well as certain concentrations of airborne fungus. These allergens continue to be present into September. Be aware of triggers and work with your health care team to help you get through them. Proper control can relieve, or even eliminate, the symptoms associated with asthma and diabetes.
As the spring and summer arrive, be aware of triggers that could aggravate your asthma and diabetes symptoms. Talk to your doctor about adjusting your medications, stay in the air conditioning as much as possible and adjust your daily routine to avoid possible triggers. With some planning, you can comfortably get through the hottest and most humid months of the year.