Diving Into Fall

By Avery Keatley

For many people, especially in the Pittsburgh area, fall means corn mazes, haunted houses, stunning foliage, and cool nights huddled around a campfire. Fall can be a wonderful time of year for those who enjoy the outdoors, or those who simply enjoy its beauty by taking a scenic drive. However, for people diagnosed with asthma, fall can bring a load of challenges hidden in every pile of freshly raked leaves.

Image by David Goehring.

Growing up in the suburbs that were almost rural, raking was an essential fall duty that required the whole family. My brother had allergic asthma as a child, which meant surgical precautions for raking leaves. My mother required him to hear a surgical mask over his mouth and nose to keep the allergens out of his lungs. I was also required to wear one, although I’d never had asthma or allergies. I hated the feeling of my hot breath contained against my face, but looking back, I realize my mother did it to help my brother feel normal. Who doesn’t wear a surgical mask when raking leaves?

Mold is a common asthma trigger. Mold spores thrive in humid conditions and can cause allergic asthma to act up. During the cooler months, mold grows comfortably in leaf piles. Stirring up leaf piles—e.g. jumping in them—can kick up mold spores and release them into the air, reports Pure O2, a UK medical oxygen supplier. One way to help combat this is by wearing a surgical mask.

What are some of the ways you keep your asthma controlled in the fall? Share your answers in the comments!

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