Employee Wellness Blog

Why Does Summer Trigger Asthma Attacks For Some Employees?

Posted by Seraine Page on Mon, Jul 01, 2019

blossom-flora-flowersAsthma can worsen in the summer — thanks to heat and humidity levels rising — among other irritants.

As summer pollen counts also rise due to thunderstorms stirring up all types of allergens, asthmatics may notice an increase in their symptoms. In fact, thunderstorms are often the cause for increases in asthma-related ER visits.

When planning company picnics and outdoor summer events, it’s important to keep in mind how it may impact those dealing with severe asthma.

This post will share tips on what triggers to watch out for throughout the summer months so employers can be on the alert during company outdoor events to best protect employees. Asthmatics may also find it as a helpful reminder to let trusted coworkers know what to do in the event they have an asthma attack.

Here’s a look at seasonal asthma triggers to be on the lookout for:

How Summer Brings on Asthma Triggers

Summer is associated with fun in the sun, but it can bring about unique problems for asthma sufferers. Recognizing common asthma triggers can help asthmatics plan and protect themselves this summer.

Summer asthma triggers may include:

  • High humidity
  • Sudden weather changes
  • Rain
  • Thunderstorms
  • High heat

If you live in a state where heat levels rise predictably, keep your inhaler and other medicine with you as a precaution. Heat and humidity support dust mites and mold growth that can trigger allergic asthma, which is caused by inhaling allergens.

With summer heat also comes thicker air — AKA humidity — which traps more particles in the air and leads to an increase in air pollution, an irritant to the lungs. Pollen counts can increase during summer as the humidity keeps it in the air longer. Thunderstorms break up pollen into smaller pieces that are more likely to be inhaled, too. 

Being aware of these asthma triggers can also help you better prepare for a potential attack:

  • Winds from thunderstorms keep pollen in the air longer
  • Thunderstorm winds may also stir up fungal and mold spores
  • Pollution and sunlight can combine to create ozone, an asthma trigger
  • Alternaria, an airborne fungus, peaks in August and September
  • Changes in temperature and humidity
  • Smoke from brush fires or controlled burns
  • Extreme heat and dehydration

Preventing an Asthma Attack: The Essentials

Most asthmatics know the basics of keeping themselves safe from an asthma attack. As a refresher, here are the basics every asthmatic (and their employer) should know:  

  • Keep meds around - Bring necessary medications to work.
  • Drink up - Stay hydrated as dehydration makes asthma worse.
  • Protect yourself - Let a trusted work source know you have asthma.
  • Exercise inside - On humid, hot days, workout inside.
  • Have a plan - Create your asthma action plan.
  • Watch the weather - Stay inside on poor air quality days.
  • Know your body - Monitor symptoms when you exercise.

Create Lung-Friendly Workplaces and Events

While employees can’t always predict when an asthma attack will occur, they can take steps to be prepared in case one happens.  

Employers will also want to be prepared if that moment ever comes — especially during employer-sponsored events. By educating all employees about triggers of asthma, it adds an extra layer of protection so everyone knows the basics of assisting someone having an asthma attack.

If an employee is having an asthma attack, help them:  

  • Stop any activity they are doing.
  • Hand them their rescue inhaler to take.
  • Remain calm.
  • If symptoms fail to respond to rescue inhaler, call 911.

Symptoms vary from asthmatic to asthmatic, so it’s important to know what constitutes as a severe symptom for individuals. Emergency treatment is recommended any time a person experiences severe wheezing or breathlessness; an inability to speak more than short phrases due to lack of breath, and no improvement after using a rescue inhaler.  

Set Outdoor Events During Peak Healthy Air Times

Before scheduling outdoor events, check weather apps or set alerts from organizations like the National Allergy Bureau for a better understanding of your area’s air quality. Asthmatics all have varying levels of what they can tolerate, so being aware of what elements trigger an asthma flare can be helpful when planning outdoor company events.  

Gather details like:

  • Local pollen counts
  • The day’s air quality index
  • Ozone levels
  • Weather forecast
  • Active wildfire status

Even if employers can’t change weather-related triggers, establishing a lung-friendly workplace is one way to help asthmatic employees thrive. This is especially true during outdoor company events where strict no-smoking policies should be upheld.

Most asthmatics can enjoy an active lifestyle that includes outdoor events, and by eliminating obvious triggers like smoke, employers can help them enjoy the event with less risk. Additionally, thoughtful planning around high pollen count days is a gesture asthmatics and allergy sufferers alike will appreciate.

While summer can bring on asthma attacks, being aware of triggers can help employees — and employers — be prepared while also enjoying all the outdoor activities summer has to offer.

Ready to plan your annual summer picnic? Check out our favorite toolkit below to plan a healthy picnic lunch all your employees will love!

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Topics: Healthy Workplaces

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