Heat Waves Heighten Risks for Asthma Sufferers

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PHILADELPHIA, PA — As the nation braces for another wave of scorching temperatures, individuals with asthma face increased health risks. Hot weather can worsen asthma symptoms, making it essential for those affected to take additional precautions.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warns that high temperatures can elevate levels of air pollutants like ozone, fine particulate matter, and sulfur dioxide. These pollutants can trigger asthma attacks and necessitate more frequent medical care.

“Asthma is the most common chronic respiratory condition, and oppressive heat and humidity can significantly worsen asthma symptoms,” said Dr. Manav Segal, Founder of Chestnut Hill Allergy & Asthma Associates. “This can lead to increased instances of coughing, chest tightness, and shortness of breath. Being aware of the environment and paying close attention to weather forecasts and humidity levels can help people anticipate and manage symptoms better.”

To help mitigate severe asthma responses, Dr. Segal offers several key recommendations:

  • Monitor Weather Conditions: Regularly check the CDC’s HeatRisk resource for local heat advisories.
  • Plan Outdoor Activities Wisely: Schedule outdoor activities for early morning or evening when temperatures are cooler.
  • Stay Indoors During Peak Heat: Especially for children prone to asthma attacks, indoor activities like visiting an air-conditioned gym, movie theater, or mall are safer options.
  • Stay Hydrated: Drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated.
  • Know Your Limits: Take breaks during physical activities to avoid overexertion.
  • Keep Medications Handy: Ensure that prescribed medications are up to date and readily available. Be mindful to prevent medications from overheating.

“If you feel an asthma attack coming on, use your prescribed rescue inhaler promptly and seek a cool, air-conditioned environment,” advises Dr. Segal. “Adhering to prescribed maintenance medication is crucial in preventing severe symptoms.”

Dr. Segal also underscores the importance of knowing when to seek medical help. “If symptoms do not improve after using a rescue inhaler like albuterol, cool down and seek medical attention promptly. Consistent chest tightness and difficulty breathing warrant a visit to a healthcare provider.”

Regular doctor visits are essential for maintaining an effective asthma management plan, especially during summer months when heat and air pollution levels peak.

For further information and tips on managing asthma during hot weather, consult resources from Chestnut Hill Allergy & Asthma Associates and the CDC.

Dr. Manav Segal is a leading allergist and immunologist serving the Philadelphia area, treating asthma and allergies in both children and adults. He has been recognized as a Top Doc in Philadelphia Magazine and Main Line Today. His expertise has been featured on Good Morning America online, 6ABC Action News, CBS3, Fox29, NBC10, WHYY, and Main Line Parent magazine. Dr. Segal is board-certified by the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology and the American Board of Internal Medicine, and he serves as Chief of Allergy & Immunology at Chestnut Hill Hospital.

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