My Experience With Dehydration And Asthma

Last summer my asthma seemed to get worse. The same has happened this summer, despite my good asthma control. Last summer my doctor said he suspected it was because I was dehydrated. I have not seen my doctor this summer. But, I suspect he was right. Allow me to explain.

What symptoms do I feel right now?

Well, let’s just say I have an albuterol inhaler. It did not get used much between January and August. So, that’s pretty good for a guy who used to go through 1-4 inhalers a month prior to 2000. But, for some inexplicable reason, August seems to hit me. And it’s not allergies. I do not feel sniffly or sneezy. My eyes are not red and itchy, or at least no more than usual during this time of year.

But, I do wake up feeling short of breath. I feel like I can exhale for a long time. I can even make that fake, audible, expiratory wheeze sound. I have type #3 asthma attacks if you’re keeping track.

During lunch at work yesterday I had to excuse myself. I couldn’t stop coughing. It felt I was producing excessive phlegm. Both of these episodes were resolved with 2-6 puffs of my albuterol inhaler. I do not feel perfect after using it, but I do feel a heck of a lot better. These symptoms do not stop me from doing my normal, daily activities. They are just annoying.

Why do I suspect dehydration?

When my doctor suggested dehydration two years ago, I did a double take. I just thought it was a dumb idea. But, after drinking lots of water for the next few days, I did start to feel better. This year my symptoms started after spending several days outside in 90-degree weather.

Look, I’m outside most days I don’t work. I live 2 blocks from Lake Michigan. So, you can bet we’re there a lot. During the past 2 weeks, several days were spent at the Lake. I also spent 3 days at my brother’s cottage. It was 90 degrees all three days. Then we spent 2 days at Michigan’s Adventure. After all, this is when my asthma symptoms started.

So, I suspected maybe my doctor was right 2 years ago. My theory was that all that fun made me dehydrated. It was very hot out. You sweat. You do lots of walking. And, Lord knows I did not drink much those days. You’re out and about, so it’s hard to stay hydrated. At least, this guy did a poor job of it.

To remedy this situation I  decided to take a day off. The kids and I stayed home in the air conditioning all day. We did nothing but watch TV and play on our electronic gadgets. And the dad drank lots and lots of water.

This seemed to work. The symptoms subsided. The inhaler use significantly diminished over the next few days.

What to make of this?

Sometimes it’s difficult to know what triggers a flare-up of asthma. Doctors can’t see into your lungs. They have to go by their experience guided by common sense. And, this is how my doctor came to suspect dehydration. I like to keep up on these things, but not even I thought of dehydration. Now that it happened again, I suspect he was right. I think all the time in the hot sun has dehydrated me. The solution in my case is to make sure I drink ample cups of water every day — especially on these hot summer days.

Does science prove dehydration may trigger asthma? I think so. And if so, how does it happen. I will delve deeper into the science of this asthma trigger in an upcoming post. So, stay tuned!

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Asthma.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

View Comments (10)
  • Caron
    3 months ago

    I never really thought that dehydration may be a factor. I have controlled asthma with Singulair and seasonal allergies. I went out last night and had a few alcoholic beverages. I know that alcohol can dehydrate you and I also did not drink much water. I woke up today and my breathing is off. I’m going to drink lots of water today and see how it goes. Thank you for posting this.

  • Leon Lebowitz, RRT moderator
    3 months ago

    Hi Caron and thanks for your post. So glad to hear that John’s article provided you with some additional insight for you concerning dehydration and asthma. I’m hopeful re-hydrating yourself will help resolve your stated breathing issues. Please do check back and let us know how you’re doing. All the best, Leon (site moderator)

  • emmejm
    5 months ago

    I always make it a priority to stay well hydrated for this reason! I generally drink 10-12 cups of water or tea a day. When I started having flare-ups again this fall, my doctor also suggested that congestion from my allergies might be causing the confusing symptoms

  • Leon Lebowitz, RRT moderator
    5 months ago

    Hi emmejm and thanks for your post. It’s good to hear you’re able to stay hydrated with 10-12 cups of fluid (water or tea, as you said) throughout the day. It’s also very good your physician is aware and supports this for your condition. There is no question that allergies can play a role in asthma conditions, too. Keep up the good work! Warmly, Leon (site moderator)

  • Shellzoo
    5 months ago

    I think I will keep a water bottle with me and see if that helps. Looking forward to the next article.

  • John Bottrell, RRT moderator author
    5 months ago

    You don’t really hear a lot about water and asthma much anymore. But, I do have that second article done. So, will try to remember to let you know when it’s published. Thanks. John. Site Moderator.

  • FeelingShy
    5 months ago

    I never knew asthma & dehydration could be connected. Interesting, and it might explain alot. Thanks!

  • John Bottrell, RRT moderator author
    5 months ago

    It makes sense to me. But, as you’ll see when my next article on this subject gets published, evidence in this regard remains sparse. John. Site Moderator.

  • Leon Lebowitz, RRT moderator
    5 months ago

    Hi FeelingShy and thanks for your recent post. You’re right, asthma and dehydration have a connection, as John so aptly pointed out in his excellent article. In view of your concern, I thought you might also find it helpful to look over this article on the very same topic from our editorial team and contributors: https://asthma.net/living/ask-the-experts-is-there-a-connection-between-dehydration/. Warm regards, Leon (site moderator)

  • Leon Lebowitz, RRT moderator
    5 months ago

    Hi FeelingShy and thanks for your two posts. You’re right, asthma and dehydration have a connection as John so aptly pointed out in his excellent article. In view of your concern, I thought you might also find it helpful to look over this article on the very same topic from our editorial team and contributors: https://asthma.net/living/ask-the-experts-is-there-a-connection-between-dehydration/. Warm regards, Leon (site moderator)

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