Beating the Heat and Humidity with Asthma
Summer is here, and with it comes heat, humidity, and other things that often make breathing more difficult for those of us with asthma. While I’m fortunate to live in a city with generally fabulous air quality, with the exception of if there is forest fire smoke drifting in, it does get quite hot in the summer—especially if you contrast it with our colder-than-Mars winters! My lungs like a happy medium: >Fall is my best breathing season, followed by Spring (with Winter being the worst).
I’ve learned a few tips to beat the summer heat and humidity when you have asthma—or at least make it a bit more tolerable so you can catch your breath!
Tips to beat the heat and humidity!
Make use of air conditioning
I’m fortunate that I’ve always lived in a house with central air conditioning — at the cabin, we even have a window AC unit that allows us to keep our veranda cool. An air conditioner with a dehumidifier built-in is really the only way to truly control heat and humidity in Summer months, but many other things can make you feel cooler.1
Embrace the breeze or create your own
If you don’t have AC at your disposal (I often don’t at the cabin, though we installed the window AC very early this year!), staking out a shady spot where there is a bit of a breeze can provide a little relief. Indoors, using ceiling, stand or box fans is also a huge help—one weekend in June, we opened the cabin up on a Friday night, opening the veranda windows to get some air circulating. In my spot on the couch right under the ceiling fan, I got full benefit of the evening breeze and the fan’s magic—positioning is key!
As well, if you don’t have air conditioning or it’s inadequate, the trick of pointing fans outside (not in), really works. I learned about this one from my friend Stephen, who lives in NorCal with no AC when tackling a hot day at our Surrey, British Columbia Airbnb that lacked AC. Keeping air moving also makes it feel less humid to breathe—though fans don’t decrease humidity, they certainly make breathing feel a bit easier. 2
And of course, there’s always the summer day options of hitting the great indoors if needed—go to an indoor shopping mall, catch a movie, or go to a museum to get into the cool air for a few hours!
Water is your friend
Dive in, splash or spray yourself, and drink up! While cooling your body off won’t necessarily help you breathe easier in the humidity, it will make you feel a whole lot less miserable regardless (especially if you, like me, are fairly heat intolerant!).
Staying hydrated from the inside out will help decrease the irritation in your lungs making breathing a little easier. If you’re like me, and also suck at drinking water, there are lots of caffeine-free ways to hydrate (caffeine is a diuretic, and peeing out everything you’re drinking is not going to help your body get the water it needs!).
And some frozen treats!
While water is the healthiest option, herbal iced teas, lemonades, popsicles, freezies (AKA freeze pops, ice polls, ice lollies, and my favorite from the Philippines, ice candy. I once had an ENTIRE lengthy Facebook thread on my wall going about this!), and of course, frozen and non-frozen fruit can help you hydrate, too.
Also, if you need a delightful dessert on a hot day, you might want to try the DIY Dole Whip recipe from Chocolate Covered Katie. There are also strawberry and banana flavor recipes. Frozen fruit, ice, a splash of milk, and lemon juice, blend for hot day bliss that helps hydrate you at the same time! I’ve since had pineapple Dole Whip at both Disney World and at a frozen yogurt shop in San Diego, and the homemade version is a pretty darn good stand-in!
Keep your inhaler handy
And of course, keep your rescue inhaler at hand during hot days, especially if air quality is poor. Stay on top of your regular asthma meds as well. Know how your body responds to anti-histamines if you are taking them, as they may make keeping up with hydration more of a challenge.
What are your strategies for hot days?
Whenever it gets hot, my aunt and I recount the day well over a decade ago when we’d just returned to the cabin from a road trip to Thunder Bay, Ontario—the heat was outrageous. We spent all day lounging on the deck where it was cooler than inside the cabin—my cousin and I had only the responsibility of drinking things, and my aunt said she’d get us food. We all moved as little as possible until evening, when we finally decided it was cool enough to go to the beach! (Yeah, imagine that!)
What are your strategies for navigating the heat and humidity with asthma? Let us know in the comments!
Have you ever experienced an itchy chin prior to or during asthma attacks?