Having a Safe & Healthy Summer with Asthma
Asthma in the Summer; Mini-Series #1
Summer is a time for warm nights, flip flops, popsicles, outdoor activities, and unfortunately, a host of asthma triggers. In the summer, children with asthma may be in new or different environments, trying new activities, and exposed to new or different triggers.
It is important to keep asthma under control year-round, and summer is no exception - knowing how to manage asthma in these conditions will help to avoid symptoms and enjoy even the hottest summer days. See below for tips and tricks to maximize summer fun, while keeping asthma under control, and staying safe on days the outdoor air quality is high.
Asthma Managed Summer Fun
Sports and Physical Activity
- Children with asthma can participate in sports and physical activity—it's all about finding the right fit and keeping asthma in control.
- Sports or activities that have periods of inactivity, like baseball or biking, and slow and gradual warm up are often good options.
- Swimming is also a good choice since the warm, moist air may keep symptoms away, but be sure the pool area is well-ventilated and doesn't have the strong smell of chlorine, which can be a trigger.
Playing Outside & Hot Weather
- Air pollution, hot and humid weather and certain types of pollen are common summertime asthma triggers. But that doesn’t mean outdoor activities are off limits.
- Check the air quality before you head outdoors and make an alternative plan if current or forecasted air pollution levels are high.
- Hot weather and even sudden changes in the weather (such as a sudden thunderstorm) can bring on asthma symptoms. Wind can spread pollen and stir up mold, affecting those who suffer from grass or tree pollen and mold allergies.
- Try your best to keep an eye on the weather to anticipate extra hot days, or severe thunderstorms.
Campfires & Fireworks
- Camping and summer go hand-in-hand but asthma and campfire smoke do not -smoke is an asthma trigger.
- Try these activities instead: star gazing, building a faux fire with logs and LED lights (with pre-made s'mores, of course!), or even break out some glow sticks!
- If a campfire is a must, sit upwind of the smoke and avoid getting too close to help prevent an asthma flare-up.
- Fireworks can also affect air quality, emitting smoke and particle pollution that can aggravate asthma symptoms.
- Some precautions to consider: Watch from a distance. Stay upwind of smoke. Go inside if it's too smoky. Have a rescue inhaler nearby.
Traveling & Being Away from Home
- Summer vacation often includes overnight stays and travel away from home.
- Be sure your child is prepared by putting together an asthma travel pack with all of their medicines and instructions.
- Think about and plan for who will help supervise the medications if you will not be with the child.
Outdoor Air Quality: Stay Safe & Avoid Asthma Flare-Ups
- People living close to the fire-stricken areas should remain indoors and avoid breathing smoke, ashes and other pollution in the area.
Protect the air in your home
- Keep doors, windows and fireplace dampers shut and preferably with clean air circulating through air conditioners on the recirculation setting.
Keep an eye on symptoms
- Higher levels of smoke in some areas can make breathing more difficult. If you are experiencing symptoms, contact your healthcare provider.
Take precautions for kids
- Extra precaution should be taken for children and teens, who are more susceptible to smoke. Their lungs are still developing, and they breathe in more air (and consequently more pollution) for their size than adults.
Ask for help
The American Lung Association’s Lung HelpLine at 1-800-LUNGUSA is staffed by nurses and respiratory therapists and is a free resource to answer any questions about the lungs, lung disease and lung health, including how to protect yourself during wildfires.