The Baton Rouge area has had a few Air Quality Alerts in the month of May. Poor air quality caused by a combination of ground-level ozone and air pollution can worsen asthma symptoms, triggering wheezing, coughing, trouble breathing, and even leading to hospitalization in serious cases.
WAFB First Alert Storm Team’s Diane Deaton announced an Ozone Action Day for the third day in a row on Thursday, May 10, and this time it was a “Code Orange,” meaning it could be especially unhealthy for sensitive groups to be outside.
RELATED: Learn How to Control Asthma
The groups that are most sensitive to the pollutants should decrease exposure by reducing prolonged or heavy exertion outdoors. That includes working out. For people who enjoy staying fit, outside is a prime place to do workouts, walk, or run.
On WAFB’s new Facebook group, Get Fit Red Stick, member Laura Vaughn asked, “With the Action Alert Days being in the Orange and my having asthma, what kind of activities can I participate in if I don’t belong to a gym?”
WAFB reached out to a few local asthma experts to find out the best options for working out on an Ozone Action Day.
"Try to exercise early in the morning or late in the day, but not when it's hot outside," said Dr. Prem Menon, M.D. at the Asthma Allergy Immunology Center. Dr. Menon also said to limit exercising outdoors because the allergens are going to be more flared up on an Ozone Action Day.
"Be sure and take your asthma medicine ahead of time and always keep your inhaler with you," said Dr. Menon.
ASTHMA ALLERGY IMMUNOLOGY CENTER
Asthma sufferers are often encouraged to avoid their known triggers, as well as any respiratory irritant.
"The most common respiratory irritant is second-hand smoke, but ozone falls in that category, too," said Dr. L. Ben Gaudin, II, M.D., Board Certified Allergist with the Allergy, Asthma & Sinus Center.
"We try to be practical when we tell people to avoid things because we know they can't," said Dr. Gaudin. "Ideally we tell them not to go outside much on days when ozone counts are high."
If you have to get in your daily run, he says where you go for your run is important. "Running along a busy road, you're more likely to be bothered by air pollutants from car exhaust versus cleaner outdoor setting like a park," said Dr. Gaudin.
For some asthma sufferers, exercise can be considered a trigger, and an Ozone Action Day can simply worsen the effects. Dr. Gaudin says swimming is better tolerated for exercise-induced asthmatics.
"We don't want you to avoid exercise. We want you to be healthy. We may have to do more medical treatment to control the asthma to allow you to participate in the activities you want to do."
THE ALLERGY, ASTHMA & SINUS CENTER
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4 TIPS FOR CONTROLLING ASTHMA ON OZONE ACTION DAYS
(Source: American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology)
Talk to your doctor if you find yourself using your rescue inhaler more than twice a week. It may indicate that you need preventative medication, or a change to your current dosage. Make sure you have an asthma action plan so you are prepared to handle worsening symptoms.
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