High heat and humidity can trigger asthma and other respiratory illnesses

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — We’ve all felt the scorching Mid-South heat over the past few weeks. The high heat and humidity can trigger asthma attacks and other symptoms in people suffering from respiratory illnesses.

The Asthma and Allergy Foundation ranks Memphis as the 41st most challenging city to live with asthma.

The ranking is based on the prevalence of the condition, the death rate, and the number of ER visits.

The weather means people with asthma, like Trey Moore, have to take more precautions.

“I’ve got control meds, and it makes it a lot easier,” he said.

Doctors say humidity helps common allergens like dust mites and mold thrive, which can trigger more cases of asthma flare-ups and other respiratory diseases.

“When we have ozone warnings and heat waves and things like that, there are certainly some patients who have lung problems that are at higher risks than others,” Dr. Jeff Wright, the president of Memphis Lung Physicians, said.

“It’s very important to realize that even people who have these conditions well-controlled can lose control during these really stressful, high heat and humidity times,” Dr. Amit Prasad, the chief medical officer at Methodist South Hospital, said.

Prasad said the level of ozone in the air could also worsen symptoms. He recommends checking the forecast before heading outdoors.

“Be weather aware, so you know what the conditions are like,” he said. “If you’re going to be heading out, you should know what to do and how to deal with it potentially.”

Moore said the prevention of flare-ups is the best treatment.

“Just be familiar with your triggers and stuff, and just, if you have medication, stay on it and keep your rescue inhalers. If you don’t have your prescription filled, get it filled now,” he said.

If you’re susceptible to asthma or other lung diseases, doctors say staying hydrated and out of the heat of the day can help with flare-ups.

They also say the elderly and children are most at risk for these flare-ups.