When your child has asthma, it’s rough. Every changing season can play havoc with their symptoms, as climate change shifts pollination, and the blooming of various flowers and trees earlier every year. This presents more pollen and a longer season. But: knowledge is power. Here are the basics of how the different seasons can affect asthma sufferers:
Fall and winter are the worst seasons for children with asthma.
There is also a significant increase in asthma attacks during these two seasons. Viruses become highly prevalent in the population and typically cause upper respiratory infections. Your child’s asthma may flare up around late August to September. During this time, school resumes, exposing them to more viral infections as they return to their classrooms. Being cooped up in close quarters with other students with viruses could affect your child’s asthma. When the winter comes, children with asthma are exposed to different triggers as they spend more time inside, as well as with the cold outside. Viruses are the real culprits here. The fall and winter season remains the most challenging because of the increase in exposure to viruses, which is why it’s first on our list. In fact, many asthma attacks are caused by viral respiratory infections. Classrooms often have more allergy and asthma triggers than your home, says the American College of Allergy Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI).
Spring is beautiful, but it’s full of allergens.
Trees, grass, and flowers may look magnificent during the Spring, but this also signifies the beginning of the ultimate allergy season. The pollen count is at its highest during this time of the year and occurs earlier every year. Exposure to these various allergens can spark asthma attacks in your child, alone or in combination with other environmental factors such as viruses, indoor and outdoor pollution. Read our blog here on understanding the movement of pollen.
The warm summer season has asthma triggers, too.
Around this time, higher levels of air pollution, sudden weather shifts, and even thunderstorms can trigger asthma symptoms. Some children are sensitive to heat and humidity, or pollen from cut grass, trees and weeds — all of which are allergens. However, there are fewer asthma attacks during this season because children are not exposed to as many potential viral infections, and because school is out, they spend less time in the more densely populated campus setting.
Tips for Asthma Trigger Reduction
Here are several tips you can take to effectively reduce or prevent your child’s asthma from worsening:
- Create an Asthma Trigger Reduction Plan For Your Home.
In conjunction with your medical asthma action plan created for your child with your medical professional, creating an Asthma Trigger Reduction Plan For Your Home can be very helpful in understanding how to help control your child’s asthma triggers within your living environment. To give you an idea, view our Asthma Trigger Reduction Plan For Your Home here.
- Pay attention to Air Quality Index (AQI) reports.
Air Quality Index codes are broadcasted daily on the radio, television, and the Environmental Protection Agency’s AIRNOW. They have codes for when air quality is very poor (Code Red or Code Orange). When this happens, it can help if your child reduces their time outdoors. Another resource is Breezometer which has a pollen forecast.
- Make a habit of handwashing with non-fragranced basic soap.
Handwashing creates a safer environment at home, and it prevents your children from picking up or spreading viruses. Most of the viruses that cause problems are primarily spread through contact with infected hands. We recommend a non- fragranced basic soap – antibacterial soap is only needed to sanitize, not for regular hand washing. Encourage your child to make handwashing a habit at home and in school.
- Manage your indoor air
Air conditioning during the summer is ideal for your child with asthma, and is especially important in their bedroom. Try and avoid fans, as this circulates dust, pet dander, and other particles that can irritate your child’s airways. Before the summer heat and humidity set in, make sure to change your AC filter to a MERV 11-13.
- Teach your children not to rub their eyes, noses, and mouths.
This can be a challenge for kids, but if they can avoid rubbing, it may prevent the spread of viruses on their skin. This is why we recommend frequent hand washing.
- Children with asthma can exercise regularly.
Did you know that many professional athletes, even those participating in the Olympics, have asthma? It’s a misconception that children with asthma should refrain from physical activity. If your child needs to sit out during recess or sports, they may not have good control of their asthma and should see their health care provider.
Being able to manage your child’s asthma can be challenging and stressful, but there are countless sources of information out there that can help you through it. You should also educate your child about their condition so they know what to do if it flairs up. Just establish an effective action plan so you and your child can have a happy, stress-free, healthy time, whatever the season.
Do you know where your asthma triggers are hiding? View our infographic here to learn more useful tips.
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