World Asthma Day is celebrated on 2nd May every year across the globe. The theme of this year’s Asthma Day is ‘Asthma Care for all’ which promotes the robust development and implementation of effective asthma management.
Asthma is a long-term condition affecting all age groups. It causes lung airways to narrow as a result of swelling and a mucus deposition on the walls which leads in shortness of breath. Breathing problems can reduce the quantity of oxygen getting into the body, which may lead to a number of other problems. If someone has asthma, they must take proper precautions to prevent any incidents. If asthma is not treated properly, it could possibly be fatal.
According to the Global Burden of Disease (GBD) report, approximately 30 million asthmatics live in India, making up 13.09 per cent of the worldwide burden. In terms of mortality, India is responsible for more than 42 per cent of all asthma deaths worldwide. According to The Global Asthma Network (GAN), In India, 82 per cent of people with early symptoms and 70 per cent of people with severe asthma remain undiagnosed.
How does summer affect asthma?
Our general health is substantially impacted by the weather. A person with asthma may also experience symptoms that are impacted by the weather. In particular, summer has various effects on asthma. Below are a few effects that can trigger asthma:
1. Weather change
The airways can be impacted by rapid and drastic changes in temperature from hot to cold. Going in and out of air-conditioned rooms/enclosures may be the cause of these modifications.
2. More pollution & dust
Dust and other harmful pollutants are common in the summer. The nose and airways become irritated by these toxins and dust particles.
One of the most frequent causes of asthma attacks and other respiratory problems is pollen. You may be more vulnerable to attacks from pollen during the summer when it is more active.
4. High heat & humidity
Summertime brings with it substantially greater temperatures and humidity levels. These two environmental changes have had a big impact on asthma.
Asthma symptoms can be brought on by allergies to certain foods, surroundings, fragrances, etc. During the summer, you could be more sensitive to and reactive to items that cause allergies.
The summertime air is rife with germs that can cause illness, just like it is with dust and pollution. In the hot and muggy summer, several bacteria and viruses are significantly more active.
Other factors that can add up to Asthma triggers are:
Smoking: Smoking produces irritating substances that settle on the moist lining of the airways. Tobacco damages tiny hair-like projections in the airways called ‘cilia’. Normally the cilia sweep away dust and mucus out of the airways. Cigarette smoke damages cilia and can set off asthma episode.
Pets: Although dog/cat fur won't directly cause asthma, it may result in an attack if a person is sensitive to it or allergic to it.
Indoor Pollution: Indoor air pollution can take the form of particulate matter like soot and dust mites or gases like carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxide, and sulphur dioxide that are emitted from cooking, heating, or cleaning solutions, anyone who has breathing problems like asthma or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is more susceptible to the effects of poor indoor air quality.
Preventive measures that can be taken to avoid asthma triggers:
As with any ailment, asthma triggers in the summer can be prevented. These small adjustments, though not entirely avoided, can lessen your chance of having an asthma attack throughout the summer.
1. Keep surroundings clean
As mentioned above, a variety of dust particles, pollutants, pollen, and viruses can cause asthma attacks throughout the summer. Keeping your space free of these irritants is the best approach to avoid summer triggers.
2. Take medication if required
Immune system boosters or allergy drugs can help lessen or even prevent allergic responses. There are several drugs available for the different allergies that could be causing your asthma. Consult your Physician before taking any medication.
3. Wear a mask
You can significantly minimise your exposure to allergens by using a face mask. Face masks offer protection from allergens such as germs, pollen, dust, and pollution.
4. Wash hands throughout the day
There are numerous allergens and asthma-causing substances on our hands. We advise you to wash your hands effectively several times a day in addition to maintaining a clean environment.
5. Don't touch your face
Touching your face can cause allergens to travel into your eyes, nose, and mouth through your hands. Avoid touching your face even if you wash your hands regularly.
6. Avoid extreme and sudden temperature changes
As was previously said, abrupt temperature changes might confound the airways and elevate breathing difficulties. When you return from the outdoors and walk into the air conditioning, be careful.
7. Keep inhalers reachable
If you are an asthma patient, always keep inhalers with you. Asthma can be worsened by any of the above-mentioned factors and inhalers are helpful in subdue the attack.
(The author, Kanchan Naikawadi is a Preventive Healthcare Specialist at Indus Health Plus )