Can the Weather Affect My Child's Asthma?
Yes. In some kids and teens with asthma, weather conditions and changes can bring on asthma symptoms or lead to an asthma flare-up. Some kids' asthma symptoms get worse at certain times of the year. For others, a sudden weather change, such as a severe storm, can trigger a flare-up.
Cold, dry air is a common asthma trigger and can cause flare-ups. This trigger may be more troublesome for people who play winter sports and have exercise-induced asthma.
Hot, humid air also can be a problem. In some places, heat and sunlight combine with pollutants to create ground-level ozone. This kind of ozone can be a strong asthma trigger. So can smoky air from a wildfire.
Wet weather and windy weather can cause problems too. Wet weather encourages mold growth, and wind can blow mold and pollen through the air.
If you think weather plays a role in your child's asthma, keep a diary of asthma symptoms and possible triggers and discuss them with your doctor. If you notice pollen, mold, or other allergens make asthma symptoms worse, ask your doctor about allergy testing.
How Can We Avoid Weather Triggers?
Once you know what kind of weather triggers asthma symptoms, try these tips to protect your child:
- Watch the forecast for pollen and mold counts plus other conditions (extreme cold or heat) that might affect your child's asthma.
- Limit your child's outdoor activities on peak trigger days.
- If cold air is a trigger, consider having your child cover their mouth and nose with a loose scarf in very cold weather.
- Keep windows closed at night to keep pollen and molds out. If it's hot, use air conditioning, which cleans, cools, and dries the air.
- If air is smoky due to wildfires, keep your child inside with windows closed and air conditioning on as much as possible. You can get daily information from weather reports (online or in the newspaper) or by visiting the Environmental Protection Agency at www.airnow.gov.
- Make sure your child always has quick-relief medicine (also called rescue or fast-acting medicine) on hand.
Your child's written asthma action plan should list weather triggers and ways to manage them, including any seasonal changes in medicine.