Seasonal shifts show up in myriad ways: bliss, depression, and, ya know, asthma-related inflammation. Because air conditions that can trigger asthma symptoms, such as dryness and allergens, vary with the season, the time of year can have a great influence on how you experience asthma, particularly when certain triggers are more likely to bother your unique condition than others.
Recognizing when your triggers occur most commonly may help you mitigate your symptoms. Unfortunately for asthmatics, the list of triggers can be long, but here’s a quick, pulmonology-themed jaunt through the seasons.
If you’ve staved off the flu this year, that probably isn’t helping your asthma. It turns out that winter is a time of the year when asthma flare-ups appear often.
“This is partially due to a rise in respiratory infections such as the common cold or flu, which spread more effectively in the large gatherings that happen during the holidays,” Dr. Andrew Lindsley, U.S. Medical Affairs Asset Lead for Amgen, stated in a blog on Amgen’s website. On top of that, all of that time cooped up inside increases exposure to indoor athma triggers, like dust mites and pet dander.
Running outside might not offer much refuge, either. Research shows that dry air—brought on by the cold—can irritate the lungs, causing them to tighten. In fact, dry air may be the primary trigger for exercise-induced asthma. To keep asthma at bay during the winter, try to limit your outdoor exposure, keep control over dust in your house, and consider a bedroom humidifier to keep your lungs from drying out.
Then come the allergens: Plants are reproducing, leading to pollen dusting everything; yard work and gardening may send all sorts of detritus into the air, and you may be spending more time outside. All of these can, for some, cause asthma flairs.
To combat the onslaught of good weather and nature doing its thing, take a steam bath to clear your sinuses. If you have space to garden, look for plant species of flora that don’t trigger your allergies, which can result in your asthma flaring up, too.
Many people see their asthma symptoms improve during the summer, but every person is different. Plenty see their symptoms worsen during the summer months, and there are lots of potential causes
Wildfire smoke, air pollution, and humidity all tend to proliferate during the summer—and all can intensify asthma symptoms. Confronting them comes down to planning. Checking the air quality before making outdoor plans is one way to evade triggers in the atmosphere. And if you’re planning to exercise, consider getting outside early to beat the heat.
Surprise! Every season can be an asthma season, including fall. Thanks to the cold, dry air makes a return. On top of that, mold grows on dead plants and leaves, with spores floating through the air, which can trigger asthma symptoms to appear.
As with winter, handling autumnal asthma symptoms comes down to restricting your exposure to dry air and steering clear of anyone who may be fighting off a cold. One fall-specific tip for you: If latex triggers your symptoms (something that is surprisingly common), consider forgoing a store-bought costume and maybe go the DIY route instead.