Summer forecast: Hot, with a chance of asthma

Summer forecast: Hot, with a chance of asthma

Now that summer is here, your child’s asthma might heat up. Changes in seasonal air quality may affect how he or she feels.

  • Pollen and mold. Plants make tiny pollen particles that are carried from plant to plant through the air. Some children have allergies to specific plant pollens. From early spring to late fall, plants can release pollen. “Children who are allergic to pollen can have a variety of symptoms, including sneezing, congestion or a runny nose, watery eyes and itchy eyes, nose and throat,” says Benjamin Gaston, MD, Chief of Pediatric Pulmonology at University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital. “If your child also has asthma, these allergens can cause his or her airways to swell and trigger an asthma attack.”
  • Ozone. Ozone is a component of air pollution that is formed more readily on hot days than it is during cooler weather. Ozone has beneficial effects when it is miles above the earth’s surface. However, it makes asthma worse when it is formed close to home in the heat of the summer.

Cool summer tips

Dr. Gaston offers these tips to help your child breathe easy during the summer heat:

  • Stick to your child’s asthma action plan. Each child with asthma should have an individualized asthma action plan. If prescribed, make sure your child takes the correct controller medicine daily, as directed. Make sure to take the specific actions your child’s doctor has recommended if there is any change in his or her symptoms.
  • In general, regular exercise is good for almost all patients with asthma. However, the time and place for exercise should be chosen to avoid inhaling allergens and irritants that will make asthma worse. For almost all children with asthma, indoor activities are preferable on days with a poor outdoor air quality index (AQI) – particularly when levels are above 100. “For allergens and other triggers, each child’s recommendation should be individualized by his or her doctor,” says Dr. Gaston. To learn more about AQI, go to and click on “Kids.”
  • On bad air quality days, be sure to use air conditioners and/or air purifiers whenever possible.
  • Regularly clean or replace filters on air conditioners, air purifiers and other ventilation systems.

Nationally recognized pediatric pulmonology care is now in Solon

Eastside residents now have access to advanced pediatric pulmonology care at the new UH Solon Health Center. To schedule an appointment at this or any of our community locations, call 216-UH4-KIDS (216-844-5437) or visit

Benjamin Gaston

Chief of Pediatric Pulmonology, UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital
Professor, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine

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