Monsoon is the season of rains, warm food, and lots of children playing around. In India, we can find various hot snacks with tea or coffee whenever rain hits the ground. We can see the uplifting moods of people with the monsoon finally hitting the Indian subcontinent after excruciating hot summer.
The climatic change during monsoon brings various seasonal diseases, such as cold, flu, typhoid, cholera, and hepatitis A. During cold, humid, and rainy days, asthmatic patients often experience asthma attacks. The asthma attacks can be mild or severe enough to interfere with your activities, or sometimes it can lead to a life-threatening situation. Let’s find out what asthma is and how monsoon affects an attack?
What is asthma?
Asthma (bronchial asthma) is a chronic respiratory disease that makes breathing difficult. In normal respiration, the muscles around the breathing passage (airways) are in relaxing mode and allow air to move effortlessly. But, during an asthmatic attack, the following effects happen:
- Bronchospasm: Construction of the smooth muscle layer, which surrounds the airways, occurs in an asthma attack, which causes narrowing of your airways and subsequently difficulty in airflow.
- Inflammation: During asthma, the inside layer of the bronchial tubes in our lungs becomes inflamed and swollen. This inflammation decreases airflow in the bronchi.
- Excessive mucus production: During an asthma attack, the sticky mucus (phlegm) secretion blocks the bronchi and halts the airflow.
These asthma attacks flare up in exertion, stress, allergens, and during climate changes.
How does the monsoon affect asthma?
Asthma can affect anyone at any age. Monsoon can also be a trigger factor for the asthma flare-up. The following are some reasons that can be causative of an asthma attack during monsoon:
- Cold weather: The coldness during the monsoon causes the release of histamine in your airways, which triggers asthma symptoms and wheezing.
- Elevated pollen levels: In the rainy season, pollen increases in the environment. Pollens trigger an asthmatic attack.
- Dampness: Due to constant rain and lack of sun rays, humidity increases in the atmosphere. Damp housing provokes mold and fungus growth, which increases the prevalence of asthma and other respiratory illnesses.
- Poor sun exposure: During monsoon, we can see less sunlight, which results in vitamin D deficiency. It is a contributing factor in asthma flare-ups.
- Allergens and viral infection: we can notice various viruses and bacteria during the rainy season. House dust and mites increase in a damp atmosphere. These can lead to allergies and increases the risk of an asthma attack.
- Other factors: Emotional factors such as excitement, anger, fear, depression, and poor immune system can cause breathing issues.
Because children breathe faster than adults, they are more prone to experience respiratory illness during monsoon season.
How to manage asthma in monsoon?
Asthma is a long-term disease that doesn’t go away and needs medical intervention. Seasonal changes can exacerbate asthma attacks, but we can avoid a flare-up with some preventive measures, including:
- Warm food and drinks: To lessen the effects of cold, warm drinks and food are good options. Some food items that can be helpful in asthma relief during monsoon are brown rice, protein-rich food, green leafy vegetables, beans, carrot, cabbage, cauliflower, onions, sweet potatoes, idli, dosa, kimchi, sprouts, and eggs.
- Steam: Inhalation of vapor of boiled water with cumin seeds, tulsi, or essential oils causes bronchodilation and ease of breathing.
- Clean surroundings: House dust, mites, and damp walls are triggers of an asthma flare-up.
You should shift indoor plants on the balcony or terrace, vacuum carpets at least twice a week, regular clear filters of the air conditioner, and don’t let dust accumulate in the house.
Changing bed sheets and pillow covers weekly can avoid dust and mite aggregation.
The dampness on walls promotes mold build-up, which can cause asthma and other respiratory issues even if you don’t have them. So, make sure to deal with it as soon as possible.
- Avoid allergens: Stay away from the pollution-rich areas, smoking zone, dusty areas, and pollen-laden plants during the rainy season.
Some people are allergic to pets and pet hair. So, try to avoid contact with pets and lessen the visit to the houses witch have pets during monsoon.
- Get help from home remedies: The famous tips grandma gave during our childhood are highly effective in fighting infections. Following are some beneficial remedies:
- Make a concoction (kadda) of the powdered ginger root, long pepper, and black pepper, all in equal parts, with half a tablespoon of honey in warm water to boost immunity.
- Soak three figs overnight in water and consume both water and figs the next day on an empty stomach. It improves respiratory health, decreases phlegm production, and comforts the airways.
- Lightly heat the mustard oil with camphor and apply it to your chest. It gives instant solace to the tight chest.
In addition to these precautions during monsoon, you should remember to take your asthma medications regularly.
Dr. Navneet Sood, Clinical Lead and Senior Consultant– Pulmonology, Dharamshila Narayana Superspeciality Hospital, Delhi