With much of the country already experiencing summer heat, those living with asthma and other chronic respiratory illnesses are being reminded to take proper precautions on hot, humid days.
New Brunswick Lung Association Director of Health Promotion Barbara Walls says it’s important to limit exposure to allergens and stay indoors when humidity levels are high.
“If you’re fortunate and have air conditioning you’ll want to use that. Keep your windows closed, your blinds closed, keep the heat out,” Walls said, adding that going to public places that have air conditioning, like malls and libraries, is also an option.
For asthma sufferer Elizabeth Doherty, humid days, like the one New Brunswick had Tuesday, can be stressful.
“The feeling I have right now is almost like there’s a tornado outside really…I have that sort of anxiety about when I look out the window,” Doherty said.
“When it’s humid out, you know, the air is stiff, it’s harder for the air to move around and breathing can because quite laboursome.”
Walls added that it’s important for people with asthma to protect themselves against the heat by staying hydrated and dressing in lightweight, lightly coloured and loose fitting clothing. Taking cool baths or placing a cold wash cloth on the back of the neck also helps.
She says if patients do go outside, it’s best to avoid the hottest period of the day — which is usually between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.
However, Walls advised that it’s also important to be proactive with medications, like allergy pills and nasal sprays for people who have allergy-induced flare-ups.
“Allergy medications should have been started a couple of months ago. But now that we’re in the season you should be definitely taking your steroid puffer, if that’s prescribed,” Walls said.
For people with asthma, the Lung Association has helpful resources.
The association website states that “uncontrolled or poorly controlled asthma can cause permanent damage to the airways in the lungs and may lead to death, even in people with mild asthma.”
Government statistics show there are 2,448,817 Canadians living with asthma. In New Brunswick there are 48,531 asthma patients, and 73,775 in Nova Scotia.
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