While colds, allergens, smoke and animal dander are a few more common elements that can trigger an asthma attack, so can changes in weather conditions—especially during the monsoon season in Arizona.
Kimberly Byrne, DNP, CPNP, AE-C, Pediatric Asthma Program Manager at Cardon Children’s Medical Center in Mesa, Arizona, explains how an unpredictable monsoon season can make parents of asthmatic children more on edge than normal this time of year.
The culprit is called thunderstorm asthma. During a monsoon storm, heavy winds and rain kick up mold, grass and pollen into the air. The air’s moisture breaks them down into smaller particles by the air’s moisture. The wind then spreads these particles.
“One to two days after a storm, we usually see an increase of patients both in the emergency room and admitted into the hospital for asthma attacks,” says Byrne.
Children with asthma tend to be vulnerable to the effects of the monsoon season, especially in Arizona. Monsoon season affects children more than adults because they breathe faster so are more likely to have respiratory symptoms. Byrne warns parents that, even if their child has not displayed major signs of asthma for some time, they should still keep a close eye on them the days following a storm.
“If your child starts coughing, wheezing or has shortness of breath, do not hesitate to call their primary care provider. Or, go to the emergency room if their albuterol inhaler or breathing treatment is not helping,” says Byrne. “There is no over-reacting when it comes to your child needing oxygen.”
Your asthma action plan
As school ramps up again, it is also essential to share your asthma action plan with coaches, teachers, after-school care and the school nurse. Keep an inhaler and spacer at the nurse’s station and with the child at sport practices or recess.
It’s almost impossible to avoid a windy day during the monsoon season of July through September. However, if you have the chance to do indoor activities or exercise inside the gym, it will help you and your child breathe easier.
Asthma doesn’t have to control your life or your child’s. Create an asthma action plan with your provider through this free download and have a go-to plan for treatment.
Also read: 11 ways asthma can go from 0 to 60 →