Summer heat is no blessing for people with asthma. This condition often aggravated by environmental factors such as humidity and temperature variations. These factors should therefore be controlled as much as possible. Contrary to popular belief, air conditioning can be a real help for asthmatics.
The causes of asthma
The exact causes of asthma are unknown, but this condition is influenced by numerous factors such as genetics, lifestyle and allergies. The environment also plays an important role: urbanisation, pollution and poor indoor ventilation aggravate symptoms and can cause asthma in young children. Finally, an asthma attack can be induced by several definite stimuli, although these will vary from person to person and from time to time. An insight:
- Allergic stimuli: mites, animal dander, mould, pollen, animal proteins and food additives.
- Non-allergic stimuli: smoke, exhaust gases, paint vapours, perfume, detergents, chalk, printing ink, fog, heat variations, cold air. Everyone is prone to such stimuli, but an asthmatic person is all the more sensitive to them.
- Medication, physical exertion, stress, strong emotions, and hyperventilation are also likely to induce an attack. Infections of the respiratory tracts can temporarily make the condition worse.
Managing your asthma
Asthmatic people suffer from feelings of chest tightness, breathing difficulties, constant coughing and fatigue. While there is no cure for asthma, the condition can be controlled very effectively by avoiding the stimuli mentioned above. It is thus recommended to air and clean your home thoroughly, paying special attention to the bedroom. In addition, it is important to avoid exposure to tobacco smoke (even passive tobacco smoke), to get sufficient exercise – when environmental conditions are favourable, of course – and to deal with any excess weight.
Asthma and summer heat
As with hay fever, heat aggravates the symptoms of asthma. This is mainly due to an increase in humidity and a more frequent absence of wind, both of which increase the pollen level and promote the build-up of summer smog.
- Drink plenty of water to prevent dryness of the mucous membranes of the respiratory tracts. Tomato juice, milk, broth and fruit juice are also allowed, but limit your consumption of alcohol, tea or coffee.
- Avoid unnecessary exertion. Do not play sports at temperatures greater than 30°C. Also avoid smog, smoke and anything that may irritate your airways.
- Avoid the heat and seek out cool places. Apply a cold towel to the back of your neck from time to time, stay in the shade and keep your home cool.
- Contact your doctor if your symptoms worsen and ask if you can increase your doses of medication.
- Does your child suffer from asthma? Never leave him/her alone at home or in the car in hot weather.
Air conditioning for combating asthma
Given the crucial importance of environmental factors in this condition, air conditioning or an air purifier is an aid of choice for people with asthma. They purify the air from harmful substances and the air conditioning also creates a more pleasant temperature – provided the system is used and maintained properly. Finally, you can take some specific measures depending on the stimuli that trigger your attacks:
- The ideal humidity level is between 40 and 60%. Symptoms worsen in both too dry and too humid an environment. If you are allergic to mites or moulds, be aware that they like humidity and heat. Conversely, air that is too dry causes feelings of tightness and wheezing.
- Make sure that the difference between the indoor and outdoor temperature is not too great, and that it does not exceed five to eight degrees. Any greater variation may aggravate the symptoms of asthma.
- Choose an air conditioner with air purifier or a system capable of humidifying and dehumidifying the air.
- Have your air conditioning checked regularly to ensure optimal operation of the system.