Although asthma can flare up at any time during the year, many people report an increase in asthma symptoms in the spring. Emergency departments see an increase in asthma patients because spring pollens cause those with asthma and allergies to have a reaction. The lining of the lungs swells, triggering the start of an asthma episode. The severity of asthma ranges from irritating to potentially fatal. Since the risk of a serious asthma attack exists, it is important to know the early warning signs of an issue. This will allow time to take preventative measures or seek medical attention before the asthma has worsened. Asthma attacks can escalate quickly.
Early indications of asthma include:
- Frequent cough, commonly at night
- Wheezing after exercise
- Shortness of breath
- Trouble sleeping
If you have been prescribed an asthma medication, you should take it as soon as you experience any of the above early warning signs even if your daily routine has not yet been impacted by the symptoms. The medication may prevent a severe asthma attack.
In addition, many people with asthma take maintenance medication. This medication helps prevent asthma symptoms from occurring. Be sure to take your medication as prescribed by your doctor. You may be directed to ramp up the amount of medicine you take in the spring if you have a history of asthma issues at this time of year.
Finally, you can take some steps to reduce the risk of an asthma attack this spring. Consider the following:
- Avoid being outside when pollen levels are high (typically between 5am and 10am).
- When you come inside, take a shower and wash your clothes to prevent transferring pollens into your house.
- Don't dry clothes, sheets and towels outside.
- Keep your windows closed as much as possible (both home and car).
- Exercise indoors as much as possible.
- Keep your asthma medication with you when you leave the house.
An asthma attack has progressed when the symptoms have worsened and performing normal daily activities is difficult. Here are some symptoms of a severe asthma attack:
- Severe wheezing
- Coughing that doesn't stop
- Rapid breathing
- Pain or pressure in the chest
- Blue lips or fingernails
- Difficulty talking
At this point, medical attention is needed. Don't delay. Seek help immediately.
Hopefully you will not experience a severe asthma attack this spring. By keeping these tips in mind, it’ll be less likely that you will have an issue. If you find your current medicines are not keeping your asthma controlled, consult your doctor. A change in prescription may be necessary.
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