Weather changes trigger breathing problems
Asthma sufferer Marianne Drevna had not used her inhaler since the fall until last week brought sub-zero temperatures followed by a sharp increase into the upper 40s.
“This is a difficult time of year,” said Drevna, 60, of Dormont, who works as a respiratory therapist with the Cranberry-based nonprofit Breathe Pennsylvania.
Drevna and other experts say cold, dry air along with rapid fluctuations in weather often trigger breathing problems such as wheezing or tightness of the chest. This week's forecast includes wide-ranging weather conditions, with rain and snow and temperatures going from as high as 50 degrees on Monday to a low of about 20 by midweek.
Dr. David Skoner, director of the division of allergy, asthma and immunology at Allegheny Health Network, reported a 50 percent jump last week in prescription requests for albuterol, a drug used to treat breathing problems.
Skoner said several patients with well-controlled cases of asthma who might use inhalers only once or twice a year reported using them two or three times daily to deal with breathing problems.
“These conditions wreak havoc for people's lungs,” said Dr. Todd Green, an allergist and immunologist at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC. “It's a busy time of the year for us.”
The experts said there are several ways to prevent problems. Skoner advises sufferers to stay indoors when possible, and to cover the face with a mask or scarf when outside. The cover helps warm the air before it enters the lungs, acting as a humidifier of sorts, he said.
Green encourages people to “pre-treat” themselves with reliever medications such as albuterol before they go out into the cold. He said it's important for them to remain on daily preventative medications they might already take.
Drevna said it's important for asthma sufferers to regularly wash their hands to fight the spread of viruses such as the flu.
Tom Fontaine is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7847 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- VA hospitals in Pittsburgh, Erie turn attention to female veterans’ needs
- Allegheny County Controller Wagner claims rival Flaherty benefits from ‘dark money’
- Baby makes arrival at fast food restaurant in Hazelwood
- Western Pennsylvania watchmaking company says worker safe in earthquake
- Penn Hills School District brings on former employee as consultant
- Duquesne University, union spar over labor laws
- McKees Rocks council president arrested after SWAT standoff
- Work to begin on Fifth Avenue apartments in Uptown
- Newsmaker: Leslie Geier
- Senior at Pittsburgh’s CAPA school focuses spotlight on homeless students
- It’s business, but not as usual in Pittsburgh