dust like figure sneaking up on a woman

That Sneaky Springtime Trigger

Last updated: April 2019

Spring started the other day—which always throws me off because every year I think Spring starts on March 21st, not March 20th. Either way, as circumstance would have it, I started coughing on the first (actual) day of Spring.

We still have snow on the ground, but it’s starting to melt. I don’t have many allergies. But yet every year, right around the time things start melting, my lungs get unimpressed. Not like a full-on temper tantrum, but also not well, happy. It started with the cough, which led to texting Dia saying “Why am I coughing?” (not that I don’t always cough but this was beyond the normal cough), and then the next day came the low-grade annoying dyspnea.

Well, that was sudden? What could it be?

Weathering the weather

Things have started warming up here, at least for now. Initially, I thought the semi-rapid swing in temperature was the cause of my asthma symptoms, but that didn’t seem quite right—although I can’t fully rule it out. After all, being on Spiriva this winter kept my asthma more controlled than usual through cold temperature swings, and now here we are in March where it actually hit 5*C today allegedly, and my lungs are acting up. Huh. So, the weather alone didn’t seem quite right.


Now, my sinuses have been a little more congested lately, but I chalked a lot of that up to, in my attempt to take Singulair in the morning to see if it combatted the vivid dreams thing, I tend to forget to take it. (Note: I just set up an app on my Apple Watch to remind me, though I’m a little doubtful it’ll help!) I did not chalk it up to my one actual allergen that could be, at least partially, to blame for my asthma and rhinitis symptoms—one that I know starts lining the streets in abundance when the snow starts to melt and ice begins to thaw.

And that would be… road dust? Salt and sand are both used to keep slippery roads safer in the winter months. The problem is, the sand used survives the melt and gets stirred up as Spring begins—at that point, not being useful sand and being not-useful dust. Thanks to the CBC for interviewing me about this back in 2011, thus prompting me to actually be aware of this problem (hey, we patients can’t have it together all the time, that’s why we have our friends in the media make us smarter!).

Really, who knew? When people talk about asthma and dust being a trigger, it’s all about INSIDE things and little, if anything, about sneaky OUTSIDE dust (well, except maybe for those of you who live in areas where dust storms are a thing. Which is not here.)

Sneaky springtime trigger, sneaky allergies

I tend to forget I have environmental allergies because usually, it’s just not that big of a deal. Well, between this rhinitis and asthma stuff, and a random contact reaction rash-thing I got from utilizing random first aid supplies, the “mild atopic component” of my asthma phenotype is really showing off. Fortunately, restarting a couple of meds and a few days time should—hopefully—get things back in check!

But maybe one year the road dust trigger will stop surprising me? Maybe I should just set up an annual e-mail of that CBC link (or this post!) to myself...

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