Don’t Let these Asthma Triggers be Roadblocks to Summer Fun!

The school year is now a memory, and the fun of summer break lies ahead. But along with plenty of sun and warm weather, summer also brings some common asthma triggers for kids.

Fortunately, the first step to overcoming those triggers is knowing they’re there in the first place. While you can’t always prevent an asthma attack, avoiding potential allergens and asthma triggers is an essential first step in the right direction.

That’s why we’ve created this quick guide to summertime asthma triggers. Read on to learn more.

The connection between allergens and asthma

Seasonal allergies and asthma are often interconnected, as many individuals with asthma also suffer from allergies, a condition known as allergic asthma. Allergens such as pollen, mold, and dust can trigger asthma symptoms, leading to inflammation and constriction of the airways, causing difficulty breathing, coughing, and wheezing.

It’s important to note that oral allergy syndrome (OAS) is a specific allergic reaction that occurs only in the mouth, causing itching or swelling when consuming certain raw fruits or vegetables. OAS does not produce systemic symptoms; if other symptoms such as hives, difficulty breathing, or anaphylaxis occur, it could indicate a more serious allergic condition beyond OAS, requiring immediate medical attention.

Summertime asthma triggers: Heat & humidity.

Have you ever been outdoors on a hot summer day and suddenly felt like you couldn’t breathe? That’s not entirely uncommon, particularly for those with asthma.

Heat accompanied by high humidity levels can be particularly troublesome. Hot, humid air can lead to coughing and shortness of breath.

While the heat and humid air alone can cause an asthma attack, the combination of warmth and humidity also makes the air a conducive environment for dust mites and mold, which can also trigger asthma.

If your little one has asthma, keep a close eye on the temperature. You may want to limit your outdoor time when it’s particularly hot outside. Instead, enjoy the outdoors in the early morning or later evening, when the sun’s rays aren’t as intense and the temperatures have cooled slightly.

Summertime asthma triggers: Chlorine.

Hitting up the pool to cool down? That might not be the best idea if you have an asthma sufferer in your family.

The chlorine smell from pools can irritate some people, causing flare-ups of allergy-like symptoms or asthma.

You don’t have to skip pool time altogether if chlorine causes problems with your child, but check with his or her doctor to see what’s recommended to help ease the symptoms and prevent the reactions in the first place.

Summertime asthma triggers: Certain foods.

When you think of an allergic reaction to a food, you likely think of a food allergy. But in some cases, people who have grass or tree pollen allergies can experience cross-reactions to common summer fruits and veggies, like peaches.

That’s because fruits and vegetables contain similar proteins to those found in the pollen.

If your child experiences oral allergy syndrome, it can trigger an asthma attack, too. Your best strategy is to know your child’s allergen(s) and monitor any foods that could cause cross-reactions.

Summertime asthma triggers: Fire smoke.

Whether you’re sitting around a bonfire in the backyard or enjoying marshmallows over a campfire in the woods, the resulting smoke can be a powerful asthma trigger.

Avoiding this trigger can be fairly easy — sit upwind of the smoke, switch positions if the wind shifts, and don’t get too close to the fire. You want to breathe fresh rather than smoky air.

Summertime asthma triggers: Pollen.

Pollen, pollen everywhere! Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock this spring, you’ve seen the familiar yellow pollen residue on every surface outdoors. And it’s not going away anytime soon.

Keep your home’s windows shut and your AC on to prevent pollen from triggering an asthma attack. Vacuum and dust your home regularly to remove any tracked pollen. Watch the pollen count and keep your little one indoors on days when it’s highest.

If you do have to go outdoors on those days, wash off and change clothes when you come indoors to keep pollen from spreading around your home.

Talk with your pediatrician if your child’s asthma seems more challenging to control. Learn more about Pediatric Pulmonary Medicine at Children’s Hospital at Erlanger here.