After a long winter, many people look forward to the warmer spring and summer weather. However, some people—especially parents—worry about the increase of pollen in the air. Why? For children with asthma, the allergens in the air can set off an attack.
However, the warmer months aren’t the only time of the year people with asthma need to worry about triggers. According to Cheryl Thome, BSN, RN, is Banner Children’s Pediatric Asthma Program Manager, and she says these triggers can be found almost anywhere at different times of the year. And, everyone responds to them differently.
Common asthma triggers
Several things can be a common asthma trigger, including:
- Respiratory infections such as cold and flu. This is the most common cause of asthma attacks.
- Allergens such as pollen, mold, dust, cockroaches and pet dander.
- Exercise that causes heavy breathing.
- Emotions and high stress.
- Certain times of the day or seasons in the year, such as close to bedtime or high-pollen time during the spring.
- Exposure to second or third hand smoke. Third hand smoke is chemicals located on hair, skin, clothing, car upholstery, and in the home — where anyone someone smokes cigarettes, e-cigarettes, hookah, or cigars.
- Strong smells — perfume, paint, smoke, cleaning products.
- Weather changes such as cold air, dust storms or a change from hot to cold.
- Food allergies.
- Heartburn, acid reflux or an upset stomach.
- Medicines such as aspirin or ibuprofen.
According to Thome, spring is not the only time to be concerned about asthma attacks. There are triggers that can occur in all seasons.
- Winter — Colds & Viruses such as the flu is the No. 1 cause of asthma attacks during this season. Cold air changes can also contribute.
- Spring — Allergies and increase in pollen can cause asthma attacks
- Summer — High Pollution Days — increased pollution causes increased rates of pollen. Bad air quality can trigger asthma attacks.
- Fall — Dust Storms/Haboobs, fall allergy season, back to school germs/colds.
For the spring season, Thome recommends getting allergy tested so you know your triggers and to see if you may need allergy medications along with your daily asthma controller medicine.
“Always follow your asthma action plan,” Thome said. “Please don’t forget to always use your spacer or spacer and mask with all metered-dose inhalers.”
Thome also recommends getting help early if you have trouble breathing. If breathing has not improved after 12 hours, symptoms worsen, or rescue medications are needed more often than every 3 hours then, Thome says you should call and see your doctor or your pulmonologist.
For further tips about childhood asthma, check out the free Banner Asthma Workbook.
This post has been updated. It originally published on March 9, 2017.