Asthma never takes a day off, especially in Arizona. 10% of Arizonans have been diagnosed with having asthma. This chronic lung condition is a danger all year long, but the warning signs and triggers often differ from season to season.
Every time of year brings its own set of challenges for asthma sufferers and their families, from indoor air pollution in houses sealed tight for the Arizona winter cold to the pollen that comes with blooming desert plants and grasses and the renewal of the spring season.
If you want to keep your asthma symptoms under control, it pays to understand the seasonality of this life-threatening condition. Here are some of the seasonal warning signs to be aware of during spring, summer, fall, and winter.
Spring Asthma Warning Signs
Spring is a season of beauty and renewal, but for those with asthma, it can also be a time of suffering and more frequent attacks. Asthma triggers are all too common at this time of year, and here are some key things to watch out for.
- Pollen in the air – the same pollen particles that trigger allergic reactions in susceptible individuals can kick up asthma attacks in those who suffer from chronic lung disease. If you are sensitive to pollen such as desert grasses, olive trees, citrus blossoms, desert shrubs to name a few, it pays to limit outdoor activities when pollen counts are high. To see more information about particular desert plants that affect many of our patients, see this article here.
- Frequent temperature changes – The weather changes fast in the springtime, and those sudden changes can trigger asthma attacks. Those who suffer from the disease should watch the weather forecast carefully and limit strenuous activity when the temperatures are prone to rapid changes.
- Air pollution – The higher temperatures of spring can make existing air pollution worse, both inside and outside the home. Now that the weather is warmer, you may open the windows more often, allowing air pollution into your home. An air purifier can help reduce indoor air pollution, and limiting outdoor activities can help outside the home.
Summertime Warning Signs for Asthma Sufferers
For many people, summer is the best time of year, but for asthma sufferers, the hot weather can be a real challenge. Here are some of the most common summer asthma triggers and warning signs to be aware of.
- Higher humidity when the monsoon season starts – Humidity in the air can make existing asthma symptoms worsen, or even trigger a dangerous attack. Asthma sufferers should limit their activities during periods of high relative humidity.
- Our extremely hot June and July temperatures- For asthma sufferers, every additional degree of temperature can increase the risk of an asthma attack. Limiting outdoor activities during the hottest part of the day, drinking plenty of fluids and taking frequent breaks can all help reduce the risk.
- Chlorine – A dip in the pool is a great way to beat the summer heat, but chlorine could trigger an asthma attack. Chlorine fumes are particularly dangerous for asthma sufferers, so please stay away when your pool is being cleaned.
- Insects – Bugs are common in the summer, but some of these insects are more dangerous than others such as dust mites (read here for more details). For asthma sufferers, the pain, trauma, and shock of a bee sting or wasp attack could trigger an asthma attack, so keep your bug repellent handy.
- Campfires – Everyone loves getting away from our Phoenix heat to head off to cooler places in an Arizona forest. And many of us enjoy sitting around a roaring campfire – everyone except asthma sufferers. The smoke from summer campfires could trigger an asthma attack, so you might need to avoid the notorious lovely campfire or grill out and stay indoors.
Fall Asthma Dangers
Autumn is a time of transition, but it can also be a trying time for asthma sufferers. Many seemingly benign parts of the season can be triggers for asthma sufferers, and here are some things to watch out for this time of year.
- Weed pollens – Fall is a busy time of year for weed pollens, including ragweed sagebrush and even tumbleweeds. If you are triggered by this kind of pollen, it is best to stay indoors when pollen counts are high. Also, grass reseeding is a major culprit of causing problems.
- Temperature changes – The same temperature challenges that make spring a difficult time of year for asthma sufferers are also common in the fall. With warm days and cool nights, this time of year can be a difficult one, especially since after being cooped up in the A/C for our long summer, we are EAGER to get outside. We leave our indoor gyms and our homes to enjoy hiking, walking and biking- basically anything outdoors. However, exercising in the outdoors could be enough to trigger an asthma attack. Limiting outdoor activities and watching the daily pollen count can both help reduce the risk of an asthma attack this time of year.
- Mold spores – Mold grows readily in the damp air and cooler temperatures common in the late autumn season when the chillier rains start to come. If you even suspect your home has mold, a prompt mold remediation program could reduce your risk of a dangerous asthma attack.
Wintertime Challenges for Asthma Sufferers
Winter is a time of cold and snow, but it can also be a season of asthma attacks. Many winter challenges can make existing asthma worse, including these common disease triggers, as well as ones more specific to holidays which are mentioned in this blog post.
- Indoor air pollution – As the temperature drops outside, asthma sufferers spend more time indoors. That means more exposure to indoor air pollution, including dust mites, pet dander, and mold spores. Investing in a quality air filter and keeping the windows open as much as possible can mitigate these risks, as can keep your home as clean as possible.
- Cold air – Wintertime in Arizona can be warm but it also has some extreme periods of cold and frost, so plan your outdoor adventures carefully. You can reduce the asthma risk by dressing in warm clothes, paying attention to your breathing symptoms, and limiting exposure to extremely cold temperatures.
- Fireplaces – Lighting a fire in the fireplace or enjoying your outdoor fire pit may be romantic, but for asthma sufferers, it could also be dangerous. The smoke from indoor fires as well as firepits can trigger asthma attacks, so limit your exposure or choose gas fire instead.
Asthma attacks can happen at any time of year, and every new season brings additional dangers. If you or a loved one suffers from this chronic and potentially fatal lung disease, it pays to be cautious, and always be on the watch and bring inhalers with you. Knowing the triggers, having the right type of inhaler and knowing the warning signs of an asthma attack can help you protect yourself or the ones you love, so you can enjoy all the great things every new season has to offer.
If you’re suffering from allergies, we can help. The asthma specialists at Adult & Pediatric Allergy Associates, P.C. have helped thousands of patients in the Phoenix Metro area breathe easier. You too deserve to live a life that is free of allergies! Contact us today at 602-242-4592, schedule an appointment at one of our 5 convenient Valley-wide locations.
Seasonal allergies vs regular cold
Seasonal allergies and colds often share the same symptoms. This makes it difficult to tell one from the other. Shared symptoms can include sneezing, runny nose, and congestion. However, a cold can also include symptoms such as coughing and a sore throat. Seasonal allergies can also cause itchy eyes which is not a common symptom of colds. With such similar symptoms, it is hard for people to determine the difference between a cold and an allergy. The below are signs to consider when you are having trouble telling the difference.
Winter, Spring, Summer, of Fall?
One way to tell the difference between an allergy and a cold is by the time of year. Colds occur after exposure to a virus and they are more likely to develop in the winter. Allergies occur after exposure to pollen and tend to develop in the spring, summer, or fall. If you have symptoms at the same time each year, you are likely suffering from allergies rather than a cold.
The color of your nasal discharge is also a factor in deciphering between an allergy and a cold. If the color of your mucus is green or yellow, it is a sign of a cold. Allergies also produce nasal discharge but the mucus is usually clear in color.
Running a Fever
Cold sufferers often deal with running a fever or having muscle aches. Seasonal allergies don’t typically cause fever or muscle aches.
Another way to tell the difference between an allergy and a cold is by how long you have symptoms. Colds can last as long as two weeks. Allergies, on the other hand, can last a lot longer, depending on the length of pollen exposure.
Hopefully, these signs will help the next time you are experiencing allergy or cold symptoms. If you suspect you are experiencing allergies, consult with one of our allergy specialists. At Adult & Pediatric Allergy Associates, P.C. we can provide diagnosis, treatment, and management for all types of allergies. Call us now for an appointment at 602-242-4592!
It doesn’t always snow in Phoenix, AZ during wintertime, although local residents still need to prepare for cooler temperatures. Forty-five degree weather is not uncommon from December to January. This means that some locals are likely to spend more time at home, which can make them at risk of winter allergies according to KCTV news reporter Alice Barr.