How Austin’s humidity affects asthma

How Austin’s humidity affects asthma

How has the high humidity in Central Texas affected asthma sufferers? "Just like dry, cold air can cause asthma to flare, so can hot, humid air," said Hetu Y. Parekh, MD, Allergy and Asthma at ARC Four Points in Austin and ARC Medical Plaza Specialty in Cedar Park in this recent interview with KXAN News.

"We will see people who have baseline asthma have worsening symptoms, and maybe [not have] as much control as they used to have on their daily inhaler."

Pollen and pollution

Additionally, recent rainstorms have stirred up grass pollen in the area, causing unusually severe allergy symptoms for those sensitive to pollen.

"If there's a lot of rain, we do see higher grass pollens and mold spores after rain periods too," Dr. Parekh said.

Not only are hot and humid days stressful for those with asthma, but those weather patterns tend to be when the air quality index (AQI)—a measurement of the amount of pollution in the air—goes up.

Typically, Dr. Parekh said Austin has lower AQI levels compared to other metroplexes; however, over the past few weeks, he acknowledged the Austin area's AQI has been in the moderate to high category, meaning more fine particle air pollution is present in the air.

Timing, masking, and other mitigation measures

"If you are going out and you have asthma, then you may consider wearing a mask," Dr. Parekh said. "It's not just the pollen that is going to get in here. It's going to be some fine particle pollution, which can trigger symptoms."

For those with breathing issues or lung sensitivities, Dr. Parekh still encourages people to go outside and get fresh air during the cooler parts of the mornings and evenings but suggests a mask can help minimize symptoms. When indoors, he recommended dehumidifiers to alleviate breathing issues, as well as checking to make sure HVAC filters are clear while running air conditioning.

If asthma sufferers begin experiencing symptoms like chest tightness, wheezing, and coughing and aren't seeing improvements from their inhaler, Dr. Parekh said they need to visit their doctor to see if they need to adjust their treatment plan.

Make an appointment today

Dr. Parekh has a Fellowship in Allergy/Immunology from Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center in Shreveport, LA. To make an appointment with Dr. Parekh, call ARC Four Points in Austin at 737-247-7200 or ARC Medical Plaza Specialty Allergy and Asthma in Cedar Park at 512-260-1581, or go online with ARC MyChart or ARC Help Me Book.

Tags: Asthma, Asthma Flare, Austin Allergies, Austin Asthma