In the summer, pollen and smoke are likely to cause asthma attacks. Asthma is a disease that causes airways in the lungs to become inflamed and makes it hard to breathe. Allergies can make asthma worse.
Asthma affects about 8 percent of Americans. Seniors are often surprised to learn that they can develop asthma at an older age. But two million Americans over the age of 65 have asthma. Asthma can be particularly dangerous for aging adults. They may be at higher risk for infections. They may already have trouble breathing.
For a safe and healthy summer, speak to your health care provider if you have trouble breathing. Follow these tips to help prevent asthma attacks and reduce allergens:
Maintain a Clean Home. Household cleaners can have perfumes or toxic fumes that can trigger wheezing, shortness of breath, and coughing. Look for cleaning products with non-toxic ingredients. Open the windows after cleaning with chemicals, especially with bleach.
Make Your Home Fur-Free. Keep pets with fur or hair out of the home. If you can’t let go of a family pet, make sure to keep it out of bedrooms.
Keep Food in the Kitchen. Food kept in open places like a living room or bedroom can attract roaches. Roach waste is an allergen that can irritate lungs.
Avoid Scented Products. Incense, air fresheners, and fresh paint can make asthma worse. So can perfume or scented creams.
Be Smoke-Free. Households with asthmatic family members should be “no smoking” zones. Secondhand cigarette smoke can result in severe asthma attacks.
Turn on the A/C. Use air conditioners when possible. Avoid humidifiers. Pollen, bacteria, and mold thrive in warm, humid air. They are known to cause lung infections.
Get a Flu Shot. A bout of summer flu can be very dangerous for older adults. It is especially serious for those with asthma. As we age, our immune systems weaken. Seniors have a higher risk for infection. Something like the flu can lead to pneumonia. It is important for adults with asthma to get the flu shot every year.
Wash Up. Frequent hand washing by all members of a household can lessen the risk of spreading germs. Remind your loved ones to maintain good hygiene and healthy habits—and be sure you’re washing your hands too.