Seasonal asthma occurs when a change in weather and seasonal allergens, such as pollen, exacerbate symptoms in people with asthma.
If a person with asthma experiences symptom flare-ups that are consistent with the weather and seasons, it is possible they may have seasonal asthma.
This article describes seasonal asthma symptoms, causes, triggers, diagnosis, treatment, preventions, and when to contact a doctor. It also explains other types of asthma and answers some frequently asked questions.
Individuals with asthma can experience a variety of symptoms. These include:
People who have asthma may experience symptom flare-ups during certain seasons. Some allergens, such as pollen, are more common in spring and summer.
Antibodies are proteins in the body that help identify foreign objects so the immune system can fight them. Immunoglobulin E is an antibody that
These molecules are responsible for allergic reactions and cause itchiness and sneezing.
Seasonal asthma can have various triggers, depending on the person’s allergies. Some of the most common triggers include:
- aeroallergens such as pollen
- excessively high or low temperatures
- high humidity
- dry air
- air pollution, which increases in hot and humid weather
The time of year can also affect mold counts in the air, another possible trigger for asthma.
Generally, a doctor will ask about an individual’s medical and personal history in addition to performing a physical exam. They will usually ask about the following:
- chest tightness
- long lasting colds
- a family history of asthma, allergies, or trouble breathing
There are also several tests a doctor can perform to help diagnose asthma. These include:
Asthma is a long-term condition that does not currently have a cure. However, it is possible for a person with seasonal asthma to be symptom-free when triggers, such as pollen and mold, are absent.
When symptoms are present, prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) treatments can help alleviate them. An effective asthma management plan can also help control symptoms and prevent asthma attacks.
There are various asthma medications, and they utilize different mechanisms. Some of the most common types include:
- Controller medications: These medications require daily and long-term use to control asthma symptoms. Examples include corticosteroids such as:
- Quick-relief medications: These medications work quickly to relieve symptoms that develop suddenly. A person can take quick-relief medications as needed. Examples include short-acting beta-agonists such as albuterol and levalbuterol.
- Combination medications: These medications utilize an inhaled corticosteroid in combination with a long-acting beta-agonist (LABA). LABAs are symptom controllers that help by opening up the airways. Common combinations of LABAs and corticosteroids include:
- mometasone plus formoterol
- fluticasone plus vilanterol
- budesonide plus formoterol
- Biologics: These are newer types of medication that people receive as an infusion or injection in more severe cases. They help by blocking or enhancing a gene or protein involved in asthma. Common biologics used in asthma treatment include:
- Leukotriene inhibitors: These medications
may help preventand treat chronic asthma. Examples include montelukast and zafirlukast.
People may be able to prevent allergy and asthma flares by taking medications regularly. In the case of those affected seasonally, it may help to start taking medications a month before that season begins.
Although home remedies are not a replacement for medication and a long-term treatment plan, some may help alleviate symptoms and support ongoing asthma management.
These may include:
- Identifying and eliminating triggers: While triggers
varyfrom person to person, using the following items may help eliminate some common ones:
- Supplements: Some
researchassociates certain vitamins and nutrients with protecting the airway from oxidative damage. These include:
- Stress reduction: Stress and other strong emotions can trigger asthma. This is because they can cause a person’s breathing pattern to change, triggering symptoms.
- Lifestyle practices: Certain practices
may helpthose with asthma manage their symptoms, such as:
If symptoms persist and medications do not provide relief, it is best to seek the advice of a doctor, who can help by prescribing stronger medications.
Symptoms that require urgent medical care include:
- extreme shortness of breath
- developing a blue tint on the lips or fingers
- not getting relief from quick-relief medications
- chest pain
- the inability to speak clearly
Asthma can come in many forms and develop at any stage. Some of the most common types include:
- Occupational asthma: Experiencing asthma symptoms at work is common in people whose job involves exposure to:
- other irritants
- Allergic asthma: This occurs when allergens, such as dust, pet dander, or animal hair, trigger asthma symptoms.
- Nonallergic asthma: Stress, exercise, or illness can cause this type of asthma.
- Adult-onset asthma: This occurs when a person begins to show signs of asthma as an adult. It is unknown why asthma can suddenly develop later in life. However, some people do not experience their triggers for years and are unaware they have the condition.
- Exercise-induced bronchoconstriction: This occurs when a person who has undergone rigorous exercise begins to experience asthma symptoms.
- Pediatric asthma: Some children with asthma may find that it improves as they age and may become completely symptom-free as adults.
Below are answers to some commonly asked questions about seasonal asthma.
What is a seasonal asthma cough like?
Coughing due to seasonal asthma is similar to coughing from other kinds of asthma. Symptoms include:
- chronic coughing
- chest pain or tightness
Can children experience seasonal asthma?
Research indicates that children may also experience seasonal asthma.
Is there a link between seasonal asthma and COVID-19?
According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI), there is no evidence that those with asthma have increased infection rates of COVID-19.
The AAAAI also reports that while the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) state that those with moderate to severe asthma may be at greater risk for more severe COVID-19, no published data currently support this determination.
Are there conditions similar to seasonal asthma?
Several health conditions may cause symptoms similar to those of asthma, such as:
Getting a formal diagnosis from a doctor to rule out these other conditions is essential.
What happens if a person does not receive treatment?
Treating asthma symptoms is vital. Possible consequences of untreated asthma
Seasonal triggers and weather changes can bring on or exacerbate asthma symptoms in many individuals. Some people may only get flares during a particular season, and other symptoms may worsen with that season.
A strategic asthma management plan and knowledge about triggers can help alleviate symptoms and prevent them from occurring.
Although there is currently no cure for seasonal asthma, OTC and prescription medications, lifestyle practices, and trigger elimination can help with symptoms.