There is a chill in the air and the colors of autumn along with falling leaves that signal a change in season. Hospital Emergency Departments see an increase in children with asthma beginning in fall and through the early part of winter. During the fall season, asthma triggers can change.
Common fall season triggers include mold and ragweed. Dead, wet tree leaves that have fallen to the ground grow mold spores. As the leaves are raked and discarded, the mold spores are released into the air causing asthma and allergy symptoms. Ragweed is present in the fall producing ragweed pollen in the air causing allergy symptoms that can trigger asthma.
As the weather cools and we stay indoors more, things like pet dander, tobacco smoke, and dust are more likely to trigger asthma. As we turn on home heating sources, indoor fireplaces, kerosene and gas heaters can be potential safety hazards by emitting fumes into the air you breathe causing severe breathing problems. And we can’t forget about hayrides, roasting marshmallows and making Smores. Campfire smoke and dust-like fragments that come from straw and hay can be asthma triggers.
Now that school has started, kids are at risk for catching colds and other respiratory viruses. October signaled the start of the flu season. The flu is a respiratory virus and the most common asthma trigger in the fall and winter.
How to Reduce Fall Season Asthma Triggers
- Wear a mask or scarf to cover your mouth and nose if you rake the leaves. Wear long sleeves and long pants and remove and wash them as soon as you enter your house to prevent taking mold spores into your home. Better yet, have someone else do the raking for you if you have severe allergies.
- If you are a smoker speak with your health care provider about how you can quit. If you don’t smoke, don’t allow anyone to smoke in your home or car. Keep pets out of the bedroom and off your bed and vacuum weekly to remove dust and pet dander from your carpet. Keep your windows closed to prevent ragweed pollen from entering your home.
- You should enjoy the fall activities and glow of a bonfire, however; you must keep your distance and avoid inhaling the smoke. Have a friend roast the marshmallows or make you a s’more to enjoy so you don’t have to get close to the fire. Stand away from the direction of the smoke blowing in the wind.
- The best way to avoid the flu is to get the flu vaccine. It is highly recommended the every patient with asthma get the flu vaccine. Talk with your healthcare provider if you have questions or concerns about the flu vaccine. Also, wash your hands often and keep your hands away from your face.
By following these tips, eating a healthy diet and avoiding close contact with people who have symptoms of a cold or flu, you can have fun and enjoy the pleasures that come with autumn. For more information about HealthNet, visit us at www.indyhealthnet.org.
Post by Dan Wilson, RRT, CPFT, AE-C