July 11, 2006
Contact: Tom Capezzuto
Phone: (973) 972-7273
UMDNJ Allergist Urges Asthmatics to Avoid Intense Heat and Humidity
NEWARK — Intense summer heat, stifling humidity and high ozone levels pose added health risks for some 20 million Americans who suffer from chronic asthma, warns an allergist at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey who advises them to avoid environmental elements that could trigger a life-threatening attack.
More than half of asthma attacks are caused by environmental allergens and irritants such as smoke, pollen and animal dander, said Dr. Leonard Bielory, director of the Asthma and Allergy Research Center at the UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School in Newark.
“Attacks occur when the primary air passages of the lungs, the bronchial tubes, become inflamed,” Dr. Bielory added. Then the muscles of the bronchial walls tighten and extra mucus is produced, narrowing the airways. Intense heat, humidity and high ozone levels are summertime environmental hazards that can cause serious attacks.
“Asthma symptoms could range from a frequent cough to wheezing or severe difficulty in breathing,” Dr. Bielory said. “In some instances, breathing may be so labored that an asthma attack becomes life-threatening.” Dr. Bielory advised asthmatics to watch for changing weather conditions, such as ozone alerts, drastic changes in temperature and humidity, barometric pressure or strong winds that can aggravate asthma. Many asthmatics should:
· Minimize strenuous outdoor physical activity in excessive heat and humidity, particularly sports that require short bursts of energy, like baseball, football and gymnastics.
· Take prescribed medications by your allergist or immunologist at recommended doses.
· Use air conditioning in the home and car to stay cool and dry.
· Air out tents and other confined quarters where mold spores could trigger an asthma attack.
· Shower and wash your hair every night before going to bed to remove allergens from your hair and avoid them getting on your pillow.
To arrange an interview with Dr. Bielory, call Tom Capezzuto at (973) 972-3000.
UMDNJ is the nation’s largest free-standing public health sciences university with more than 5,500 students attending the state’s three medical schools, its only dental school, a graduate school of biomedical sciences, a school of health related professions, a school of nursing and its only school of public health, on five campuses. Last year, there were more than two million patient visits to UMDNJ facilities and faculty at campuses in Newark, New Brunswick/Piscataway, Scotch Plains, Camden and Stratford. UMDNJ operates University Hospital, a Level 1 Trauma Center in Newark, and University Behavioral HealthCare, a mental health and addiction services network.