Blog written by: Dhrithi Bhat
Did you know? Extreme heat can trigger asthma.
Lately, heat waves are becoming more common due to climate change and can have a major impact on people with asthma.
Asthma is a chronic respiratory disease that affects the airways of the lungs, causing difficulty breathing. During heat waves, people with asthma may experience more frequent and severe symptoms, which may result in hospitalizations or even death in some cases.
How do heat waves affect people with asthma?
Air Pollution: During heat waves, air quality can deteriorate due to high levels of pollutants in the air. These contaminants can irritate the airways and cause asthma symptoms.
Dehydration: The heat can cause people to become dehydrated, which can thicken the mucus in the airways and cause breathing difficulties in people with asthma.
High humidity: Heat waves are often accompanied by high humidity, making it difficult for people with asthma to breathe.
Heat stress: Heat waves can cause heat stress, which can worsen asthma symptoms. Heat stress can also cause people to breathe more quickly, which can lead to hyperventilation and exacerbate asthma symptoms.
Allergies: Heat waves can increase the concentration of pollen in the air, which can trigger allergic reactions in people with asthma.
Heat-related illnesses: Heat waves can cause heat-related illnesses such as heat exhaustion and heat stroke, which can worsen asthma symptoms.
Prevention and management of heat wave-induced asthma:
Stay indoors: During a heat wave, it is best to stay indoors in an air-conditioned environment. If air conditioning is not available, a fan can be used to circulate the air.
Stay hydrated: Drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration, which can thicken the mucus in your airways.
Avoid outdoor activities: During the heat, it is recommended to refrain from outdoor activities, especially at noon when the temperature is at its highest.
Asthma medication use: People with asthma should use prescribed medications as directed by their doctor. You may need to use the medication more frequently in hot weather.
Wear a mask: If the air quality is poor, wearing a mask can help filter out pollutants and allergens.
Seek medical treatment: If asthma symptoms worsen during a heat wave, seek medical attention immediately.
Heat waves can have a significant impact on people with asthma. It is important for people with asthma to take steps to prevent and manage symptoms during heat waves. By staying indoors, staying hydrated, avoiding outdoor activities, taking asthma medications, wearing a mask, and getting medical attention when needed, asthma sufferers can reduce their risk of severe asthma symptoms during a heat wave.
- Haines A, Kovats RS, Campbell-Lendrum D, Corvalan C. Climate change and human health: impacts, vulnerability and public health. Public Health. 2006 Mar;120(7):585-96. doi: 10.1016/j.puhe.2006.01.002. Epub 2006 Mar 24. PMID: 16563872.
- Global Initiative for Asthma (GINA). GINA Report, Global Strategy for Asthma Management and Prevention. 2022. Available at: https://ginasthma.org/gina-reports/
- D'Amato G, Holgate ST, Pawankar R, Ledford DK, Cecchi L, Al-Ahmad M, Al-Enezi F, Al-Muhsen S, Ansotegui I, Baena-Cagnani CE, et al. Meteorological conditions, climate change