In the United States, over 25 million people live with asthma. An estimated 7.7% of those are adults, while 8.4% are children. In many of these individuals, seasonal asthma is a common occurrence.
Allergies, on the other hand, affect twice as many people in the US. That translates to more than 50 million individuals with allergic conditions! Seasonal allergies are also frequent, often occurring from spring to early fall.
That makes asthma and allergies two different conditions. In some people, though, both can exist, or one can exacerbate the other.
The big question now is, what exactly are the differences between the two?
Keep reading, as that’s exactly what you’ll find out in this post!
What Is Seasonal Asthma?
Asthma is a “chronic” or long-term condition that affects the lungs and airways. It causes an “inflammation” or swelling of the airways, making it narrower. With the flow of air impaired, proper breathing becomes difficult.
Seasonal asthma refers to asthma that occurs or gets worse only at certain times of the year.
For example, you may get more asthma attacks during the spring hay fever season. The heat and humidity of the summer season can also trigger more asthma attacks.
There’s also a link between asthma and the rainy season, as the rain can disperse more pollen allergen. Asthma in the winter season can also be harder to control, as the cold and dry air can irritate the airways.
Scientists are still trying to figure out the causes of asthma, but some believe it can be a relation between genetics and environmental conditions. Earlier studies have also linked mold exposure to asthma development. At the very least, mold spores along with dust mites have shown to be the trigger for asthma attacks in US homes.
What About Seasonal Allergies?
Seasonal allergies (like the ones triggered by pollen) can lead to “seasonal allergic rhinitis.” As with seasonal asthma, these are allergies that occur at certain times of the year. High levels of pollen are among the most common triggers of seasonal allergies.
Seasonal allergies may resemble asthma because they can also cause coughing and wheezing. Most allergies, however, also make the nose and throat super itchy. This can then result in bouts of sneezing, which can lead to nasal congestion and runny nose.
Can Seasonal Asthma and Allergies Coexist?
Yes! Seasonal allergies and asthma can “coexist” or occur together.
A study found that 75% of adults 20 to 40 years old has allergies. Among adults aged 55 and older, 65% of those with asthma also have at least one type of allergy. Another study says that between 60% and 80% of kids with asthma also have allergies.
Can You Cure Seasonal Asthma and Allergies?
Unfortunately, scientists have yet to discover an actual cure for both. One reason is that the exact causes of these conditions are still under wraps. Moreover, changes in environmental conditions can also “alter” how asthma and allergies work.
The great news is, there are ways to control their symptoms and also keep hay fever and other allergies or asthma symptoms at “bay.”
What You Can Do To Prevent Both
The first thing is to identify your seasonal asthma or allergy triggers. Consulting a doctor is essential to properly identify your condition. Specially if you’re unsure if you have coexisting conditions. This way, you can determine if you have an allergy, as this can also trigger asthma attacks.
Common asthma triggers include pollen, fungi or even cold, dry, heat or humidity air. Other triggers include, dust mites, pet dander, smoke, chemical fumes, and powerful odors.
Note, however, that some air pollutants, like carbon monoxide and particulate matter, can have higher levels during winter, while others in summer.
Smoke, such as those from vehicles, as well as heat, can also be a seasonal asthma trigger.
As for seasonal allergy triggers (known as “allergens”), these also include airborne particles. Most of them are pollen from trees, weeds, and grasses. Note that exposure to even just a small amount of mold spores can also induce an allergic reaction.
Once you know what triggers or exacerbates your condition, you can then do the following.
Dehumidify During the Damp Season
Molds thrive in moist conditions, so rainy and humid days can increase the dampness in your home. The thing is, a previous study found that almost half of US homes have dampness or mold issues. These are the homes with the highest risk of mold growth and spread.
Dehumidifiers can help you control the dampness in your home. By keeping humidity at healthy levels, molds (and even dust mites) are less likely to thrive. This can then help prevent allergy or asthma attacks. But be careful not to decrease the humidity too much, because low indoor relative humidity in the air can result in health problems.
Humidify During the Dry Season
If you have asthma triggered by dry air, raising indoor moisture levels can keep attacks at bay. Humidifiers can help as these make the air less dry, which, can irritate your airways.
Be careful, though, as too much moisture trapped inside your home can also trigger mold growth.
Keep Your Indoor Air Pure
You may want to get an air purifier, too, as this helps protect your home year-round from triggers. These can destroy many airborne microorganisms, such as mold, mites, and pathogens. In addition, air purifiers can remove smoke, air pollutants, and even pet dander from the air.
Air purifiers can be especially useful for those who have both allergies and asthma. They’re also quite convenient, as they can deal with triggers that appear year-round.
Don’t Let Asthma or Allergies Take the Fun Out of Your Favorite Seasons
As you can see, seasonal asthma is different from seasonal allergies, but you can have both. While there is no cure yet for either, you can keep triggers at bay with technology like air purifiers. With preventative methods, you can control the symptoms of both asthma and allergy.
Are you interested in learning more about how the air can impact your health and well-being? Then please feel free to check out our other blog posts! We have more useful asthma and allergy guides waiting for you there.