Weather Changes Can Trigger Allergies and Asthma in Children

Weather Talk

POSTED: Wednesday, February 12, 2014 - 1:52pm

UPDATED: Thursday, May 8, 2014 - 11:01am

The Cold Air, Heat and Humidity, Wind, Pollen and even Thunderstorms can Bring on Allergy and Asthma Attacks

The temperatures are warming up this week and it got me thinking about the spring allergy season. The desert plants start to grow and release their pollen and really affect those of us with spring allergies. Allergies are also hard on children, especially those with asthma. Enya and Amberley are my 9 year old twin nieces who both have asthma. Their mother, Angela has to protect them against the wind, cold and all allergy triggers daily. I see here wrapping a scarf around their noses and mouths to protect their lungs against the cold and the wind.

Changing weather can really affect everyone when it comes to allergies and asthma, but children are especially impacted. This is why I am writing today’s “Weather Talk”. I will describe the different weather related allergy triggers and how you can best protect or avoid them for your children.

We know many of the environmental triggers for allergies like pollen and mold spores. The effect of weather on asthma symptoms is still being researched, but clearly there is a link. There have been many studies that have shown a variety of connections, such as increases in asthma-related emergency department visits when certain weather conditions are present. Many people and children see their allergy and asthma symptoms get worse during certain times of year. Some people find that a severe storm or sudden weather change may trigger an attack.
A common asthma trigger is exposure to cold, dry air and this can quickly cause severe symptoms. People who participate in winter sports are especially susceptible to exercise-induced asthma. Dry, windy weather can stir up pollen and mold in the air, leading to instant allergies and problems for many people.

Hot, humid air also can trigger your allergies or asthma symptoms, and wet weather encourages the growth of mold spores, another allergy/asthma trigger. In certain areas, heat and sunlight combine with pollutants to create ground-level ozone, which also can fire off allergies or an asthma attack. To find out what causes ozone to get trapped near the ground read my “Weather Talk”; Our Smoky, Brown Haze Is Enhanced By Winter Weather,

Research has shown that thunderstorms can trigger asthma attacks. One study showed that during thunderstorms, the daily number of emergency department visits for asthma increased by 15%. The study concluded that the problem was caused by the number of fungal spores in the air, which almost doubled. It wasn't rain, but the wind, that caused this increase. Changes in barometric pressure may also be an asthma trigger.

If you think weather is playing a role in your child's allergies or asthma, doctors say to keep a diary of asthma symptoms and possible triggers. Then bring the diary in with you to discuss with the doctor. Then he can figure out what are the common triggers.

Once you know what kind of weather triggers your child’s allergy or asthma symptoms, you can use some of the following tips I found to help protect or minimize their effect:

1. Limit your child's outdoor activities on peak trigger days.
2. Keep your child indoors early in the morning, before 10 AM, when pollen is high. A majority of pollens reach peak levels around noon or early afternoon.
3. Watch the forecast for pollen and mold counts. Information about your local pollen level is available on the Internet or in your local paper. If pollen counts are supposed to be particularly high on a given day, you can play it safe by staying inside. In general, pollen counts are highest on warm and breezy mornings and low on cool and rainy days.. Also check the forecast for other conditions like extreme heat or cold that might kick off an asthma attack..
4. Keep windows closed at night to keep pollens and molds out. If it's hot, use air conditioning, which cleans, cools, and dries the air.
5. Make to always put a scarf over his or her mouth and nose outside during very cold weather.
6. Your child shouldn't mow the lawn or rake leaves, and should be kept away from freshly cut grass and leaf piles.
7. Dry clothes in the dryer, if you hang clothes or sheets to dry outdoors can allow mold or pollen to collect on them).
8. Make sure your child always has their emergency medication or inhalers near by or with them.

I am going to implement some of these tips into my routine to help reduce my allergies. Parents all have a natural instinct to protect their children. I always amazed in researching this article how much weather impacts everyone’s, especially children’s allergies and asthma. My sister in law has known how to protect the twins from weather that provokes their asthma through her many years of doctor and hospital visits and research. Hopefully we all have a better understanding of all the weather triggers for allergies and asthma and how we can create a plan to help protect ourselves and our children better from all these weather and environmental factors that can elicit symptoms and attacks.

Chuck DeBroder, Chief Meteorologist
KTSM, NewsChannel 9, NBC, El Paso, TX Chuck DeBroder NC9 @wxchuckNC9

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