Asthma is a common non-communicable disease which is characterised by the inflammation of the airways, making it difficult for air to move in and out of the lungs. Many believe that asthma symptoms improve during summer. But, in some people, its symptoms can exacerbate as the season change. To learn more about it, we spoke to Dr Hari Kishan Gonuguntla, Consultant Interventional Pulmonologist, Yashoda Hospitals, Hyderabad.
Dr Gonuguntla said, "Asthma is a seasonal disease and is generally understood that it improves during summer. In some individuals, the symptoms tend to experience asthma flare-ups to full-blown asthma attacks."
Summer Triggers of Asthma
Asthma is not only caused by allergies, but also by innumerable triggers that tend to increase during summer, like outdoor air pollution, tobacco smoke, dust mites, pets, mould cleaning, infections, drugs, and even exercise and stress. Here's what the expert has to say about them.
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Hot and Humid Air
Dr Gonuguntla said, "During the summer, the heat and humid conditions constrict and narrow the airways, making breathing difficult for people with asthma. The moisture-filled humid air contains allergens and irritants, which leads to poor air quality and causes asthma symptoms to flare up."
The stagnant air and hot weather can cause ozone and air pollution to rise to dangerous levels. Prolonged exposure to these harmful pollutants can cause respiratory problems, like Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), especially for people with asthma.
According to our expert, "Ozone, a major component of smog, is formed when emissions from vehicles, power plants and industrial exhausts interact with sunlight. This irritates the respiratory system, and damages cells that line your lungs, reducing lung function and worsening symptoms."
Pollen and Mould Spores
People who are sensitive to pollen and mould spores may suffer asthma symptoms at any time when trees bloom. Dr Gonuguntla said, "The air becomes stagnant during summer. This traps dust, pollen, mould, and pollutants, which are potential triggers of allergic asthma."
He added that people tend to stay indoors for longer duration to beat the summer heat. Hence the exposure to indoor pollutants in the form of pet dander, dust mites, cockroaches, mice, and mould is also more, leading to frequent exacerbations.
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Swimming in Hot Climate
Dr Gonuguntla said, "Swimming in the hot climate is advisable, as long as the pool area is well-ventilated, without any strong smell of chlorine, which can be an asthma trigger.
"Some people also have exercise as a trigger for asthma. When people breathe heavily during or after strenuous exertion outside, they risk inhaling more pollen or mould, triggering asthma," said Dr Gonuguntla.
Asthma patients may usually experience symptoms, such as wheezing, shortness of breath, chest tightness, and cough. These symptoms usually tend to vary over time and intensity. "But with a proper treatment plan from the physician, these symptoms can be controlled, irrespective of the season," concluded Dr Gonuguntla.
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