While most of us may look forward to welcoming a new season, to those suffering from chronic respiratory diseases like asthma it can be quite an uncomfortable adjustment period. Seasonal changes bring with it not just temperature fluctuations but also, introduces different allergens that are characteristic to certain times of the year.
Whether its excess pollen during springtime, dust and pollution during summer or mould during winter and monsoon – these allergens can travel into the lungs, irritate the airways and trigger symptoms like, wheezing and breathlessness.
Asthma is a chronic inflammatory condition, where the airways of the lungs are already inflamed and swollen, making them sensitive when exposed to allergens, and irritants. So, when an already vulnerable respiratory tract is exposed to these particles that are usually present in abundance at the start of any season it can cause the airway muscles to spasm making it even harder for air to pass through.
The seasonal exacerbation of asthma symptoms is a common phenomenon. In fact, sometimes, the extreme weather conditions and climate changes could also result in the onset of asthma in some people.
Importance of inhalers for managing asthma during seasonal change
While ensuring that you can identify as well as avoid possible triggers is the first preventive measure to undertake – regular consultations with the doctor to discuss any change in symptoms, an inhaler as well as regular inhalation therapy (as prescribed by the doctor) are critical to managing the condition. Effective, and convenient, inhalation therapy has emerged as the cornerstone treatment for chronic respiratory diseases like asthma this is because they -
- Aid in the direct delivery of the medicine to the lungs, giving quicker relief compared to oral medications
- Deliver measured doses of medicine directly to the airways, thus requiring lesser dosage and reducing the chances of side effects in contrast to oral medications
- Help control asthma symptoms through regular use as prescribed by your doctor; thereby reducing the chance of sudden flare ups or attacks
- Are suitable for all ages when used as per the doctor’s instructions. For children, it is recommended to use a spacer device along with an inhaler
Other precautionary measures
Following the right treatment plan and using an, as prescribed by your doctor, is critical for asthmatics to manage their condition and seamlessly adapt to the change in seasons. However, it is also important to take precautions to avoid/safeguard against allergens.
These include - getting your annual flu shots, using air purifiers at home, keeping hands clean and away from the face, wearing a mask while going outside, avoiding overtly polluted areas, practicing breathing techniques, to highlight a few. Considering that asthma and triggers can change over time it’s important to consult with your doctor regularly to help devise a plan and reduce the risk of a sudden flareup or an asthma attack. In most cases, this could include a combination of rescue and maintenance medications. While rescue medications are primarily used for short-term relief and as the name suggests - rescue you from a sudden flare-up; maintenance medication, is taken daily and prevents potential flare-ups - it is by far the most important treatment for people with asthma.
Additionally, a peak flow meter can be used to monitor lung function and manage the condition better. A peak flow meter is a small handheld device which assesses how fast an individual can forcefully push air out of their lungs while exhaling. It helps understand the strength of the lungs and the openness of the airways. Lower peak flow values indicate poor lung function and vice versa.
Asthma is chronic, but it does not have to have a detrimental impact on one’s quality of life. With access to inhalers, quick relief medication and doctors, asthma can be managed effectively. It is not a condition one should try to hide or ignore. This will only cause it to worsen. Instead, it must be acknowledged, and early medical intervention must be sought after. In no form should Asthma impede people from carrying out their day-to-day activities. Through awareness and sensitisation activities, patients need to be empowered to accept and adhere to the treatment required.
(Note: This information is only for general awareness and is not to promote, use, or endorse any product or encourage use of medicines in any way nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice or for treatment/ cure of any medical condition. Please consult your doctor/ Registered Medical Practitioner before starting any treatment/medicine. Use inhalers only on physician’s prescription)
About the author: Dr. Vikram Jaggi is a Pulmonologist and the Founder & Director of Asthma Chest Allergy Centre, Delhi and Gurgaon. All views/opinions expressed in the article are of the author.