Red Tide

I have been to Sanibel Island, Florida over 15 times in my life! It is my favorite place in the world. I recently spent two weeks there for my winter break. (photo above!)

While I was there, after spending just ten short minutes on the beach, I began to develop a cough and have shortness of breath. I knew I didn’t have a cold, and it was a very dry cough… I was so confused about where it came from! This beach, which I had spent so many days at in past months, had never presented any issues for me before! “What could I be allergic to here?” I thought. When I went inside, I was quickly breathing normally again.

After talking with my Nana and Grandad, who spend their whole winters here, I learned about the red tide that affects their beaches. 

Fast Facts about red tide:

  •  Karenia brevis, cause red tides (or harmful algal blooms) annually throughout the Gulf of Mexico. 
  • Red Tide produces highly potent natural polyether toxins, called brevetoxins, which are sodium channel blockers, and possibly histamine activators.
  • The NHI’s research in animals and humans suggests that persons with asthma (including children) may be more sensitive to the aerosols of these red tides.
  •  In humans, a significant increase in self-reported respiratory symptoms has been described after recreational and occupational exposures to Florida red-tide aerosols, particularly among individuals with asthma.

(Information and more found at:

Luckily, I was still able to enjoy my vacation despite spending less time on the beach than I normally would. This red tide presented a new asthma-related challenge that I never knew existed! I hope my own personal story reiterates the message to you of how important it is to always be prepared for a sudden asthma or allergy flare… even if you consider the place you are going your second home 🙂

Thanks for reading, 


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