Rutgers Allergist Urges Asthma Sufferers to Avoid Intense Heat and Humidity
Leonard Bielory offers tips to help alleviate symptoms and avoid asthma attacks.
June 21, 2012
New Jersey residents, especially those inland, have suffered through successive days of 90 degree temperatures in just the opening days of summer 2012.
Intense summer heat combined with stifling humidity and high ozone levels pose added health risks for some 20 million Americans who suffer from chronic asthma, warns Leonard Bielory, M.D., an allergy specialist with the Rutgers Center of Environmental Prediction at the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences.
He advises asthma sufferers to avoid environmental elements that could trigger a life-threatening attack.
"More than 90% of pediatric and half of adult asthma attacks are caused by environmental allergens and irritants such as smoke, pollen and animal dander," says Bielory, who also directs the STARx Asthma and Allergy Research Center in Springfield, New Jersey.
Attacks occur when the primary air passages of the lungs, the bronchial tubes, become inflamed. The muscles of the bronchial walls tighten and extra mucus is produced, narrowing the airways, Bielory explains. Intense heat, humidity and high ozone levels are summertime environmental hazards that can cause serious attacks.
"Asthma symptoms could range from a frequent cough to wheezing or severe difficulty in breathing," says Bielory. "In some instances, breathing may be so labored that an asthma attack becomes life-threatening."
Bielory advises asthmatics to watch for changing weather conditions, such as ozone alerts, drastic changes in temperature and humidity, barometric pressure or strong winds that can aggravate asthma.
Tips for those suffering from asthma:
- Minimize strenuous outdoor physical activity in excessive heat and humidity, particularly sports that require short bursts of energy, like baseball, football and gymnastics.
- Take prescribed medications by your allergist or immunologist at recommended doses.
- Use air conditioning in the home and car to stay cool and dry.
- Air out tents, tree houses or other confined quarters where mold spores could trigger an asthma attack.
- Shower and wash your hair every night before going to bed to remove allergens from your hair and avoid them getting on your pillow.
Contact: Leonard Bielory