As spring approaches, along with the beginning of the allergy season, many of us are forced to deal with significant weather changes that can also impact our asthma symptoms. In fact, along with other common triggers like exercise, viral infections and cigarette smoke, weather change is another well-known asthma trigger — cold and dry air in particular.
Since seasonal weather changes can trigger asthma symptoms, many people wonder if there’s also a connection between climate change and asthma.
Indeed, there are several ways that climate change could affect a person with asthma:
- Increased rain in some parts of the world can lead to higher levels of mold spores
- Increased droughts in other areas can lead to more dust and particulate matter in the air
- Warmer temperatures can lengthen the allergy season, with higher pollen levels
- Higher levels of ozone and other pollutants can all cause asthma symptoms
Some studies already support a connection between climate change and asthma, and indeed incidence rates are on the rise: between 2001 and 2009, the number of Americans with asthma increased by 4.3 million, while the number of African-Americans with asthma increased 50% over the same period. At this point, there are over 30 million Americans with asthma — a number that continues to increase. So many of you may be wondering, is climate change to blame for all of this?
To help answer this question, I decided to do some research. As an asthmatic and allergist living in Los Angeles, where pollution is a daily concern, I didn’t have to look too far for information.
Researchers at the University of Southern California’s Keck School of Medicine recently studied air pollution levels in 10 Southern California cities, and found that the closer children live to a highway, the higher their chances of being diagnosed with asthma. They also found that children with higher levels of nitrogen dioxide in the air around their homes were more likely to develop asthma symptoms (nitrogen dioxideis one of many pollutants emitted from the tailpipes of motor vehicles).
This study is important because it suggests that your asthma symptoms may be due to common triggers like pollen, pet dander, dust mites or mold, as well as pollution.
Although weather changes may be happening more often, pollen seasons may last longer, and the pollution levels will be higher, don’t feel overwhelmed: there are actions you can take to help. Here are a few things to consider:
- Take good care of your asthma, and use your controller medications as directed by your doctor
- Always have your rescue inhaler available when you need it.
- Keep track of the weather, and limit your outdoor activities when pollution or pollen levels are high.
- For children and their caregivers, add weather change to an action plan. This will help teachers, school nurses, and other physicians remain aware that weather change can impact asthma symptoms.
Read full article at the source About.com