Bad Air Day? Here's How to Survive
If you know your triggers and have the appropriate medication on hand, there are still things you can do to prevent problems. If you exercise outdoors, try walking instead of running to reduce exertion. Dont run near high-traffic roads, if possible, and if you know what direction the wind is blowing, exercise upwind, Dr. Rambasek says.
If you are allergic to pollen, exercise when the counts are lower, in the early morning or evening, and avoid hot, windy days, he adds. Ozone levels tend to peak from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. during the day.
Anne Marie Ditto, MD, an associate professor of medicine in the allergy-immunology division at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, in Chicago, says she generally tells patients not to avoid the outdoors. Instead, she recommends that people control their asthma and allergies so they wont have flare-ups. But there is one exception: people with asthma on high-ozone days.
“If you are in a city with an ozone action day, we tend to say, 'Stay inside if you are not well controlled...or try to avoid a lot of outdoor activity,” she says. “It might not be a good day to go outside and play baseball.”
Dr. Ditto says ozone causes inflammation and heightens sensitivity to outdoor allergens such as pollen or mold. This can increase the chance of an asthma attack.
Dr. Rambasek agrees.
“For someone with an ozone allergy and asthma, avoidance is their best bet because treatments arent phenomenal,” he says. “For someone with nasal allergies to pollen, treatment is good so we often dont recommend avoidance. But we dont have any shots to reduce peoples sensitivity to ozone.”