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Weather Changes – Asthma & Allergies

December 15, 2016 | Allergy and ImmunologyFamily Medicine

Weather Changes – Asthma & Allergies

People with asthma and chronic allergies deal with their conditions on a regular basis, but things are often at their worst when seasons change. New weather patterns can impact the ways our breathing and airwaves work, and symptoms for people with these conditions can become much more severe at these times of year.

What are some of the main triggers of increased allergy and asthma symptoms? They can come at various times of year, and can affect different people in different ways. Let’s take a look at a few.


Asthma is a condition where swelling restricts your airways, and your body produces too much mucus. Breathing can be difficult because of this mucus, and it usually leads to coughing and wheezing. There is no cure, only symptom management.

Changing seasons can make asthma worse than usual, especially when going from warmer months to colder parts of the year. Cold weather has shown to be a common trigger for severe asthma symptoms. This is particularly true in people who suffer from asthma caused primarily by exercising – the cold air entering the body when you breathe heavily cools your airways, causing them to swell and flare up.

However, the coldest parts of the year aren’t the only risk for asthma patients. Thunderstorms can trigger severe symptoms for people whose asthma is caused primarily by pollen, mainly because high winds can carry the pollen quickly to many places it wouldn’t have been normally. Asthma attack rates are always higher during thunderstorms, and can be much more severe than normal.


An allergy is a broad category describing any time your immune system reacts differently than a normal person’s immune system would react when exposed to something. Symptoms can range from undetectable to extreme and constant, depending on the specifics of the allergy.

Weather can play a huge role in allergies and their symptoms during all four seasons of the year. Some people are triggered by rain, others by dry weather. Heat triggers some and cold triggers others. Each of the four season changes can bring new changes in allergy symptoms:

  • Winter: As we enter this time of year, people with indoor allergens to pets or other triggers can be at higher risk because they spend less time outside and more time inside, near their potential triggers.
  • Spring: Pollen is beginning to flow from plants by the springtime in states with colder climates – pollen is one of the most common allergies out there. Trees also produce their own pollen which can trigger some people.
  • Summer: More pollen issues, only in summer it’s usually grass and weeds growing in and spreading their own pollen all over the place. Mold causes allergies in some people as well, and it grows in the summer in most places.
  • Fall: Mold gets even worse in colder climates, and a special type of pollen called “ragweed pollen,” which affects specific allergy cases, is most common in the late summer or early fall months.

Treatment Options

It’s impossible to completely avoid the weather around you, but a few smart habits can help you avoid the worst symptoms. Many asthma cases are tough to impact at all, but some of these and most allergy cases can be improved during the toughest times of the year. A few tips include:

  • Airflow: When you can control your airflow, do it. Use fans and air conditioners to get pollen out of your house if needed, or a dehumidifier if your allergies are triggered by moisture or mold.
  • Avoid the worst weather: If certain rarer types of weather (like thunderstorms) touch off your allergies badly enough, plan around them.
  • Get ahead: If you know your bad season, prepare for it with whatever medications or solutions you’ve found useful in the past.
  • No guessing: If you’re just developing allergy symptoms and they’re damaging your quality of life, don’t throw darts at a wall and just buy a random allergy medicine hoping it’ll work. Speak with a doctor and get a precise diagnosis so you can use the right medications.


Abe Tomco, MD

As a physician, I love helping people through stressful times when they may be sick or hurt. I want to be the kind of doctor that I would want for my own family. When a doctor takes the time to help their patients understand what is happening and what the plan is, a patient’s anxiety can be greatly reduced. The patient should receive all the information they need to be an equal partner in decision-making and feel empowered about caring for their body. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.



The Live Better Team

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This information is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. You should always consult your doctor before making decisions about your health.