Dealing With Asthma During the Summer

The season of sunshine, warmth, and long days outdoors can put a real damper on the fun for some asthma patients. While other people with asthma may have difficulty with the bracing cold of winter, your enemies include wilting humidity and hazy, particulate-filled air. So before you head out to enjoy the summer fun, make a note of these four potential triggers and take steps to breathe easily:

1. Heat and Humidity

Some people may dread hot, sticky days because of what they do to makeup and hairstyles, but people with asthma have a more pressing problem—the air quality can make it challenging to breathe comfortably. "The hot, humid days do affect most people with chronic lung disease, which includes asthma," says John Mastronarde, MD, director of the Ohio State University Asthma Center in Columbus—although it’s not well understand exactly how this kind of weather triggers attacks, he adds. Mastronarde’s advice? Stay inside in air-conditioned environments and limit strenuous activity on the hottest, moistest days.

2. Preexisting Allergies

For some people, allergy attacks trigger asthma attacks—and summer has plenty of allergens, such as grass, pollen, and ragweed. If your asthma is exacerbated by allergies, be vigilant about checking daily pollen counts (online or on the local TV news). On high pollen days, you may want to avoiding doing yard work or exercising outdoors.

In addition, take your allergy medication religiously: "Controlling allergies is a pretty important thing," says Mastronarde, who advises patients to talk to their healthcare providers about whether it might be necessary to intensify their allergy medication regimens for the duration of the season.

3. Fumes

From smoky campfires to chlorine-laced pools to smog-filled highway road trips, potential irritants lurk everywhere in the summer. In the car, travel with all windows closed and the air conditioner on. Avoid campfires and bonfires if possible, and take stock of your breathing while in the pool to assess whether the chlorine level is too high for your comfort. Keep your asthma medication handy at all times.

4. Exercise

Some people find that working up a sweat triggers an asthma attack, a form of the condition known as exercise-induced asthma. While you may have more time and energy to work out in the summer, be cautious if you find yourself wheezing, coughing, or short of breath after exerting yourself. An allergist or pulmonologist can determine if you suffer from this particular condition, and can advise you on how to keep it under control.

John Mastronarde, MD reviewed this article.


Mastronarde, John, MD. Phone conversation with source, June 16, 2015.

"Summer Vacation—A Guide for Those Living With Asthma." American Lung Association. Accessed June 17, 2015.

"Five Surprising Allergy and Asthma Triggers That Can Spoil Summer Fun." American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. Accessed June 17, 2015.