Spring Pollen Can Trigger Your Child’s Asthma Attacks
After a winter of being stuck indoors, your child is no doubt eager to get outside and play. But for children with asthma, the fun of warmer weather comes with some special challenges.
Spring and summer allergies to pollen (trees, grass, weeds) are commonly a major trigger of asthma attacks or flares. People with asthma are born with airways that are sensitive to a variety of physical and environmental factors called triggers that typically do not bother those with normal lungs. These triggers start lung inflammation and asthma symptoms.
Although asthma is not a condition that can be cured, it can be managed. Here are some steps you can take to minimize the impact of allergens and help your child enjoy the season.
Tips to Manage Your Child’s Exposure to Pollen
- Use an air conditioner (with the vent closed) in your child’s bedroom. Change or clean the filter frequently.
- Avoid hanging items on bedroom walls that collect dust and pollen—pictures, wreaths, and pennants.
- Cover windows with shades rather than curtains or mini blinds. If curtains are used in your child’s room, wash them in hot water every month.
- Wash bedding in hot water once a week. Use mattress and pillow encasings.
- Keep an eye on air quality reports in weather forecasts or online. When air quality is poor (orange and above) keep your child indoors.
- Leave doors and windows closed during high pollen times.
- Keep pets out of your child’s bedroom and generally keep contact to a minimum. Wash or brush your pet frequently.
- When out in the car, keep windows up.
- Always make sure your child is taking their asthma controller medications
- Check all of your child’s environments – school, child care, and relatives’ homes.
Asthma is the most common chronic disease of childhood and the number one reason children miss school, go to emergency rooms, and are admitted to hospitals. About five million American children are estimated to have asthma.
By decreasing their exposure to triggers, and working closely with your primary care physician and asthma specialist, you can help keep your child’s asthma symptoms in check during the summer and throughout the year.
Wai Wong, MD
Wai Wong, MD, is an attending pulmonologist in the Division of Pulmonology at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
Education: Medical School–SUNY, Stony Brook University School of Medicine; Internship and Residency (Pediatrics)–New York University Medical Center; Fellowship (Pediatric Pulmonology–Boston Children’s Hospital).