Avoid Breathing Problems When It's Hot

Avoid Breathing Problems When It's Hot

Medically reviewed in December 2020

Hot, hazy days can strain more than power-grid managers. The three H's -- heat, haze, and humidity -- make it crazy-hard for many folks to breathe: the very young or old (especially those with heart or lung problems) and anyone with allergies or asthma. Get proactive. Use these simple tips to help prevent breathing troubles before they start:

  • Check your AQI. The Air Quality Index (part of most newspaper and TV weather reports) measures five sneezy pollutants that can leave you wheezing: ozone, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, and particulate matter. The AQI runs from 0 to 500. Up to 50 is good, up to 100 is okay. After 150, things plummet from bad to worse; hope you don't see 300 to 500. The higher your AQI, the smarter it is to stay indoors with the AC running; it filters your air.
  • Do indoor activities in the A.M. Pollen counts tend to be highest in the early hours and on hot, dry days. Work out indoors.
  • Go outside after it rains. Rain washes away lots of pollen. But stay in if you're allergic to mold spores; they increase after a rain shower.
  • Shower and change. If you have to go out when it's HHH, take a shower after you get back, put on fresh clothes, and toss worn ones in the laundry to get rid of pollen and pollutants.
  • Be extra careful about asthma meds. Even if you have no symptoms most of the time, polluted air can trigger sudden, scary flare-ups.

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