Summer for everyone brings the freedom to be outdoors, playing sports, dining al fresco or just breathing in the fresh air. For people with asthma and COPD, it is probably your favourite season. But if you have a tendency towards allergic asthma, it may make sense to plan ahead.
“People with Asthma and COPD feel best in moderately humid and warm weather,” says Dr Paula Kauppi, Chief Specialist at the Helsinki Skin and Allergy Hospital, “so depending where you live, summer may be a very welcome time.”
Certainly, the arrival of summer means often also saying goodbye to all those colds and flu, the main asthma triggers of the colder seasons. More time outdoors usually also means more exercise and less exposure to indoor allergens.
“Everyone should be outside enjoying themselves in summer. The trick is to take the right precautions,” says Dr. Kauppi.
With some asthmatics, agents like pollen or dust that trigger allergic symptoms, can also bring asthma flare ups. This is called allergic asthma or allergy-induced asthma.
“Know the things that can trigger your allergy and asthma and learn how to limit your exposure to them,” Dr Kauppi advises.
If air pollution is your trigger and you live in a congested area, hot, overcast days can trap pollution closer to the ground by afternoon, and breathing it in could have unwanted effects.
Summer afternoon storms are also known to stir up dust allergens and pollen, so time your long walks or other outdoor activities for morning or later in the evening – or plan instead to exercise indoors.
Planning ahead also applies to your summer holiday. If you’re going somewhere hotter and drier than you’re used to, consider checking conditions like the pollen count and average temperatures in advance.
“And do take all your asthma and allergy medications along with you, too,” Dr Kauppi urges. “That means asthma drugs, antihistamines, nose sprays and eye drops.” Dr Kauppi also advises people with COPD traveling to a hotter climate than usual, to be mindful of the sun during the hottest parts of the day, and to avoid the possibility of any heat-induced, blood pressure or heart related issues.
“Please don’t wait until you already have symptoms to begin taking your allergy medication,” counsels Dr Kauppi. “And if you use seasonal asthma medication, start taking it at least two weeks before the trip.”
Learn the signs that your asthma may be flaring up — and know what to do when it does. Take your reliever medication in case of shortness of breath, wheezing or coughing, and carry it with you wherever you go.
In particular, if you’re going camping with no easy or quick access to care, you will want to have your medication stored safely out of direct sunlight, and away from water if you have a dry powder inhaler. It might be wise to check in with your doctor beforehand. If you need your reliever inhaler frequently, there might be cause to update your current medication plan.
Dr Kauppi encourages everyone to work for good health, taking light, regular exercise and eating a balanced diet. “We all need to keep hydrated in the heat as well,” she says, “as there are some links between dry air passages and symptoms.”
But most importantly Dr. Kauppi enthuses, “Let your lifestyle uplift you, and do whatever’s possible to enjoy life to the fullest.” She adds that her favourite mantra is:
“Support your health not your disease.”
By Laurel Colless
Photo by iStock
Orion invests in research and development of treatment options for people with asthma and COPD while also developing the design and usability of the Easyhaler® inhaler device platform. The focus is on safety and quality in each step of the product life cycle while taking care of the environment. All aspects of sustainability - social, economic and environmental - are carefully considered in the whole product life cycle. Sustainability is entwined in the whole process from R&D through manufacturing, including patient use and the disposal of old inhalers.