Understanding Seasonal Asthma
March 1, 2024

Understanding Seasonal Asthma, A Comprehensive Guide

Seasonal asthma, a form of allergic asthma, can significantly influence the quality of life for those affected. It manifests during specific times of the year, mainly when allergen levels are high. This article comprehensively overviews seasonal asthma, its triggers, symptoms, and effective management strategies.

Understanding Asthma

Asthma is a chronic condition affecting the respiratory system. It causes inflammation and narrowing of the airways, leading to difficulty in breathing. Seasonal asthma, a specific type, is closely associated with allergens present during certain seasons.

The Connection Between Allergies and Asthma

In many individuals, allergies and asthma are closely linked. The immune system perceives allergens as invaders and launches an attack. This immune response involves the production of immunoglobulin E (IgE), an antibody that triggers the release of histamine when activated by allergens. Histamine, in turn, causes allergic symptoms such as runny nose, itchy eyes, and sneezing. In individuals with asthma, this process may also affect their lungs and airways, leading to asthmatic symptoms.

Seasonal Variations of Asthma

The severity of asthma symptoms can vary with changing seasons. For some, spring, summer, and fall can be particularly challenging due to the increased presence of seasonal allergens. A detailed understanding of these seasonal triggers is essential for managing seasonal asthma effectively.

Asthma and Spring

During the spring season - the three transition months of September, October and November, tree pollen is the most common allergen. Those allergic to tree pollen may notice an aggravation of their asthmatic symptoms during this period.

Asthma in Spring

Asthma and Summer

Summer in Australia falls between December and February.

The summer season is characterised by grass pollen, which can trigger seasonal asthma in some individuals. Other allergens, such as mould and mildew, can cause asthmatic symptoms. These fungi thrive throughout the year, but specific moulds spread more readily in dry, windy weather, while others multiply and spread when it's damp and humid.

Asthma and Autumn

The autumn season is typically associated with ragweed pollen, a common trigger for seasonal asthma.

Ragweed Pollen

For individuals sensitive to it, ragweed can trigger allergic reactions. The pollen produced by ragweed consists of minuscule granules that disperse in the atmosphere and activate allergic responses in those with a ragweed allergy. Among all the symptoms of a ragweed allergy, a persistent cough, a nose that continually runs, and an incessantly scratchy throat are most frequently observed. Learn more about ragweed pollen in Australia

Also, allergic reactions to mould are common during summer and early autumn.

Asthma and Winter

The winter season brings unique challenges for people with asthma. Cold, dry air can irritate the airways and cause asthmatic symptoms. Also, people tend to spend more time indoors during winter, increasing their exposure to indoor allergens such as dust mites, pet dander, and mould.

Recognising the Symptoms of Seasonal Asthma

Symptoms of seasonal asthma include difficulty in breathing, coughing, wheezing upon exhalation, and chest tightness or pain. Recognising these symptoms is the first step towards managing seasonal asthma effectively.

Managing Seasonal Asthma

Successful management of seasonal asthma involves a combination of preventive strategies and appropriate treatment.

Medications for Seasonal Asthma

Several medications can help control seasonal asthma. These include inhaled corticosteroids, combination inhalers, rescue medications, leukotriene modifiers, mast cell stabilisers, and immunotherapy. Consulting with a healthcare provider to create a personalised treatment plan is essential.

Lifestyle Changes that can help with Seasonal Asthma

In addition to medications, certain lifestyle changes can help manage seasonal asthma. These include limiting outdoor activities during high pollen counts, keeping windows closed to prevent pollen from entering the home, vacuuming regularly to reduce levels of allergens indoors, steam cleaning carpets to kill dust mites, washing bedding frequently, and keeping the home free from mould.

When to Seek Medical Help for Seasonal Asthma

If preventive measures and over-the-counter medications aren't enough to control symptoms, it's crucial to consult a doctor. Seek immediate medical attention if you develop severe symptoms such as a bluish colour on your lips and fingernails, difficulty in speaking or walking due to shortness of breath, rapid breathing, or flaring nostrils upon inhalation.

The Bottom Line

Seasonal asthma, also known as allergic asthma, is triggered by allergens that appear at specific times of the year. Understanding these triggers and adopting effective management strategies can help individuals with seasonal asthma lead a healthy, active life. Consult a healthcare provider for personalised advice and treatment options for managing seasonal asthma.