Roughly 26 million American adults and kids suffer from asthma, a chronic respiratory disease that causes inflammation and excess mucus production in your airways. Asthma symptoms can happen any time, but they’re often worse in the summer when many asthma “triggers” — like pollen, humidity, and heat — tend to be more common.
With multiple locations in San Pedro, California, Harbor Community Health Centers helps patients at all ages keep asthma under control during the summer and all year round. In this post, our team offers five simple steps you can take to manage your asthma and prevent flare-ups this summer.
1. Keep an eye on air quality
When most people think of air quality and asthma, they think of pollen — and for good reason. The amount of pollen in the air definitely plays a role in asthma flare-ups, but other airborne particulate matter, ozone, and even humidity levels play roles, too.
Avoiding outdoor activities on days when air quality is poor can go a long way toward limiting symptoms during the summer months. To check the air quality in your area, visit the government website AirNow and enter your zip code, or visit the asthma monitoring sites provided by the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology or the Allergy and Asthma Network.
2. Change air filters often
Whether you have central air, a mini split, or window units, the filters that come with your unit can help improve your indoor air quality. But in order for those filters to do their job, they need to be changed frequently or, for washable filters, washed at least every week. The same is true if you use a separate indoor air filter. Set a reminder on your phone to make sure you keep your filters clean and effective.
3. Focus on home allergens
Regardless of whether or not you have air conditioning, there are some days when you just want to throw open the windows and let the fresh air in. Unfortunately, open windows also allow pollen to infiltrate your home. If you can, avoid opening your windows on days when the pollen count is high or on days when you or your close neighbors are mowing grass.
Whenever you have open windows, take some time to do a little extra dusting to remove pollen and other airborne irritants from solid surfaces, vacuum your upholstery and rugs more often, and wash throw pillows and blankets, especially if you’re prone to severe asthma symptoms.
4. Be careful with outdoor activities
Grilling and gathering around a firepit are great ways to socialize, but just be aware that smoke can cause asthma symptoms to flare up, too. Be sure you’re located upwind of any smoke and always carry your inhaler with you when you’re enjoying a cookout in a location other than your home.
Other outdoor activities can also cause problems, especially if the humidity level is high. Avoid strenuous activities during the hottest or most humid times of day, since both heat and humidity can make it harder to breathe.
5. Update your asthma management plan
If you have asthma, you definitely need an asthma management plan — and that plan needs to be adjusted on a regular basis. Scheduling an asthma checkup ensures your inhaler or other medications are ideally matched to your needs, and it’s also a great way to learn about lifestyle changes and other simple steps you can take to improve your lung health and reduce your risk of serious asthma problems.
Asthma symptoms aren’t just bothersome — when they flare up, they can even be life-threatening. To learn how we can help you develop an asthma management plan that works for your lifestyle, call 310-547-0202 to schedule an appointment with the team at Harbor Community Health Centers today.