Local News

Summer Can Be A Difficult Time, Especially For People With Asthma

Posted August 8, 2001

— It is usually good to walk outside and take a deep breath of fresh air, but when it is so hot and the air is not so fresh, taking a deep breath is not so easy. If you have asthma, it can even be dangerous.

Kathy Rausch spends her days working inside, but she says she loves the heat.

"I want to be out in it. I'm cold-natured, so I love it hot, and I love it humid," she says.

But she has to be carefu, because unfortunately, the heat, humidity and pollution tend to be a triple whammy for people, who like Rausch, have asthma.

"We tend to see more stagnant air in the summertime and that tends to correlate with higher ozone levels, particularly in highly trafficked areas where there tend to be more pollutants or pollution," says Dr. John Sundy of Duke University.

As ozone levels rise, so does the risk for breathing problems.

So as we get into [Code] Orange days, being outside for a prolonged period of time if you have asthma may not be a good idea. If we get into a [Code] Red day, which fortunately has been rare around here, then (people with asthma) really should avoid being outside at all if (possible)," Sundy says.

Sundy says that does not mean you are doomed to a life indoors. Medications and inhalers can help free you to do the outdoor things you love. The key is learning to control your asthma instead of it controlling you.

"Our goal really isn't to try and have people avoiding the things they really want to do, but to treat them appropriately so they can do the things they want to do," Sundy says.

Going from extreme heat into the air conditioning can also trigger attacks. Not all asthma patients suffer in the summer, so you have to figure out what triggers it for you.

Rausch is proof that you do not have to put your life on hold. She plays tennis all the time. She says she just uses her inhaler before hitting the court and keeps it handy just in case.

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