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Monday, July 1, 2013

Can hot air cause an asthma attack?

Like most of the West right now, my state is in the middle of a heat wave. Yesterday it was 104 degrees Fahrenheit. This is forecast to last through the end of the week. 

The heat can cause sunburns, heat exhaustion and make everyone cranky. But it can also cause an asthma attack. There was a small study reported in Science Daily last year. The University of Kentucky Medical Center studied 6 "normal people" and 6 people with asthma.

They had them breathe in through a machine that could vary the temperature and humidity of the air. They would have the patients pant afterwards, and they would measure airway resistance. For those that had mild asthma, they showed airway resistance to hot, humid air. (That means they were having a hard time breathing) The "normal people" showed very little or now problems. Figures. Once again our asthma bodies over-react to normal every day things. Here are the results of the study:

"Results showed that breathing of hot, humid air triggered an immediate increase in airway resistance in patients with mild asthma, but caused either only a very small or no response in healthy subjects. Breathing hot, humid air also triggered consistent coughs in those with asthma."
The study also showed that when those with asthma were treated with ipratropium aerosol (Atrovent) before the test, they did not have any problems.

So, what does that mean? If you are going somewhere that is going to be hot and humid, should you use Atrovent before hand? Talk to your doctor about it, since everyone with asthma is different. There's no one size fits all. We all have different triggers and different medicine that works for us.

But it's worth looking into. I may be picky, but I like to keep breathing....

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