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Stop summer asthma flares before they start

A woman uses her inhaler as she and a man hike.

May 30, 2024—For people with asthma, summer's long sunny days can trigger coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath. Allergies are part of the problem—dust mites and mold flourish in hot, humid weather. But the heat itself can cause asthma symptoms to flare in summer.

The hazy smog that comes with heat waves is actually ozone, a pollutant that irritates your lungs. In the short term, it can increase asthma symptoms and raise your risk of lung infections.

Long-term exposure can increase these health issues, especially if you have asthma. Another side effect of extreme heat—wildfires—also irritates your lungs.

As temperatures rise, heat-related asthma symptoms are more likely, reports the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. So if you have asthma, it pays to know how to cope during a heat wave.

How to handle the heat

Fortunately, there's plenty you can do to ease asthma symptoms and prevent flare-ups, even during the dog days of summer. Start with this advice from the American Lung Association and other experts:

  • Stay hydrated. You can help thin the mucus in your lungs and airways by drinking extra water throughout the day. Good hydration also helps keep your body temperature down.
  • Plan for power outages. If you use a nebulizer or another device that runs on electricity, talk to your doctor about a backup medication you can use in case of emergency.
  • Keep cool. Air conditioners and dehumidifiers are your friends. Change the air filters regularly on these to maintain good air quality. No AC at home? Ask friends and family if you can hang out in their cooled spaces, or find a cooling center near you.
  • Know the air quality. After you check the weather forecast, look at the pollution forecast at and check the air quality index (AQI) online. If the AQI is over 100, plan on staying inside as much as you can.
  • Keep your inhaler safe. Never store inhalers in a hot car or anywhere else that gets very hot. They can explode in high-heat conditions.
  • Update your asthma action plan. Create a summer-specific action plan with your healthcare provider.
Remember, hot weather isn't the only thing that can exacerbate symptoms. Learn about controlling asthma triggers year-round.



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