Top 10 Triggers for Asthma in the Summer

B.S. Dietetics, Dietitian, Health Professional
Medically Reviewed
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Pollen

While most people think of spring as the worst time of year for seasonal allergies, several late-blooming plants produce pollen in the summer. Grass typically pollinates in the late spring and early summer, while ragweed and other weeds pollinate in the late summer and into fall. All of these pollens can trigger your asthma as well. Keep up with your asthma medications, take a daily antihistamine if your allergies are bothering you and avoid being outdoors on high pollen days.


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Mold

The combination of warm weather and summer thunderstorms can increase outdoor mold growth. Be sure to drain standing water in your yard to help keep mold levels in check. If mold is a trigger for your asthma, stay in air-conditioned buildings whenever possible on days when mold levels are especially high.


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Stinging bugs

Some people who have seasonal allergies are also allergic to stings from bees, wasps, or other insects. Bee stings can cause a severe allergic reaction called anaphylaxis which can be particularly severe in people who also have asthma. If you are allergic to stings or have had an anaphylactic reaction before, talk with your doctor about getting tested for bee sting allergy and carrying injectable epinephrine (adrenaline) like an EpiPen. People with venom allergies can be treated with special allergy shots for their allergy. This should only be done by a board-certified allergist.


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Bonfire, barbecue or campfire smoke

Smoke is frequently a main trigger for people with asthma. But you have more to worry about than just cigarette smoke. Bonfires, barbecues, and campfires can all trigger asthma attacks. Try to avoid smoke whenever possible and always carry your rescue inhaler just in case.


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Chlorinated swimming pools

Chlorine can be a trigger for people who are sensitive to chemicals in the environment. It can help to avoid indoor pools, which trap chlorine fumes. If you still find you are having problems, seek out pools that use saltwater or non-chlorine methods for keeping the water clean. Keeping your asthma under control can help make chlorine less of a trigger for asthma.


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Seasonal fruits and vegetables

Summer can be a spectacular time for seasonal produce. But be careful if you are really sensitive to pollen, because those fruits and vegetables can be full of it. Wash produce thoroughly to remove as much pollen as possible and speak with your physician if what you eat exacerbates your asthma or if you experience any itching in your mouth with fresh fruits or vegetables. This can be a symptom of oral allergy symptoms.


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Weather shifts

Weather variations from one season to the next can trigger asthma in individuals who are sensitive to changes in humidity and temperature. Keep up with your daily controller medications and always carry your rescue medication if you are affected by weather shifts.


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Thunderstorms

Clinicians have seen an uptick in acute asthma attacks due to thunderstorms. Summer storms cause airflow patterns that concentrate pollen and mold spores. These spores are combined with the high humidity in clouds and released as airborne particles when it rains. Keep your eye on the weather and always have a rescue inhaler on hand. Keep your air conditioning on and the windows closed even when the weather cools off before a thunderstorm.


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Air pollution

Air pollution can be worse in the summer months as heat and sunlight react with the chemical pollutants in the air. Check daily air-quality levels before planning anything outdoors, especially if you live in a high-pollution area like Los Angeles or Chicago.


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Disruption of daily routines

Summer can mean sleeping in, staying out late, and traveling—all of which can make it hard to stay on top of things like taking controller medications on time and monitoring peak flow. Making the extra effort to keep your asthma in check can prevent a nasty flare-up that could really be a bummer for summer!