Factsheet

Healthy in the heat

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If you have a respiratory condition such as asthma or hay fever, make sure you are well prepared when the summer temperatures hit their peak.  

Everyone's asthma is different. Some people get asthma symptoms in hot humid air, while others are affected by hot dry air. Many people find extreme changes in the weather to be their biggest weather trigger – especially moving from a hot humid day outside into a cool building.  

Asthma triggered by the heat doesn’t normally cause any extra or different symptoms, so just stay alert to the usual signs that your asthma may be flaring up.  

Here are our top tips for helping you and your family keep healthy during these hotter periods.  

Keep cool  

Try to avoid going out in the sun and make sure you cover up when you are outside. Swap your outdoor run for a gym session or a swim. An air-conditioned shopping centre, cinema or library can also be a good place to escape the heat. If your house isn't air-conditioned, use a portable fan to keep cool. This can work better if you close up the windows and doors to concentrate on keeping one main room cool.  

Be aware of how you're feeling. If your asthma symptoms do start, act promptly to help stop it turning into an asthma attack.  

Your reliever puffer doesn't like extreme heat either, so make sure it's not stored in your car glovebox or directly under a sunny window.  

Stay hydrated 

Recent studies have found that dehydration can play a role in asthma and allergies. Aside from the many other benefits of increasing water intake (which will likely have been drummed into you already!) it's vital to drink plenty throughout the day to maintain a good hydration level to lessen your symptoms where possible.  

Time your errands  

At the risk of sounding like the apocalypse is coming, consider staying indoors and avoiding outdoor exposure during the day, particularly if you're finding that the hot weather and the poor air quality is a trigger for your respiratory problems. Pollen levels tend to be at their highest before 9am, while ozone levels tend to be at their lowest in the morning, reaching their peak at around 7pm - so try and run errands mid-morning. Consider also visiting a site like pollenforecast.com.au who forecast pollen and mould levels during the day in many states around Australia.  

Stay indoors but make sure indoors is healthy 

Indoor humidity levels in the home can play an important role in family health, particularly when asthma and/or allergies are present. Higher levels of humidity in your home can provide an environment for two undesirable triggers – dust mites and mould. There are a number of products on the market that can help to control indoor humidity including air-conditioners, dehumidifiers and heaters. You can find out more about how these products work in our Indoor Humidity factsheet

Avoid the triggers you can control 

Be aware of your usual triggers that might coincide with hot weather – cigarette smoke, bushfires and pollen in particular. Air pollution and ozone levels can trigger asthma symptoms in some people with asthma.  

Keep an eye on the weather alerts for high pollution or high ozone days. On days of high pollution or ozone, or when there is bushfire smoke, try to stay indoors with the doors and windows closed. Also try to do as little outdoor activity as possible, especially later in the day. If your asthma symptoms do start, act promptly to stop it turning into an asthma attack.  

Enlist the help of a professional 

Don't feel like you have to endure worsening symptoms during the hot and humid weather. If you're having breathing difficulty and finding that it's interfering with your normal activity, it's important that you seek medical help.  

Make sure all your medication is available and up-to-date. At this time of year, it’s easy to get caught off guard with expired medication or worse, no immediate access to the right medications.  

For more information visit nationalasthma.org.au 

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