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Can Cold Air Trigger An Asthma Attack

How Caffeine Can Affect Asthma

What in the environment can trigger an asthma attack?

In 2010, I started writing about asthmas history. This was when I was introduced to Dr. Henry Hyde Salter. He was the doctor of Teddy Roosevelt during the 1870s when the former President was a child asthmatic. He wrote a book called, On Asthma. It was the most well-respected book on asthma during the second half of the 19th century. So, whatever Dr. Salter believed about asthma became the gold standard.1

He had many hypotheses about asthma, the most famous of which was that asthma was a nervous disorder. He also believed that asthma was brought on by sleep. He had already heard about caffeine as an asthma remedy from his many asthma patients. He speculated that it worked for asthma because of its stimulant effect. He wrote:1

For, what are the physiological effects of coffee? They consist in the production of a state of mental activity and vivacity, of acuteness of perception and energy of volition, well known to those who have experienced it, and to a certain extent very pleasurable, and which is the very reverse of that abeyance of will and perception which, in drowsiness or sleep, so favors the development of asthma.

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Are There More Advanced Treatments For Severe Uncontrolled Asthma Symptoms

Advanced asthma treatments include medicines called biologics, which are made from natural substances. These drugs help by reducing your bodys reaction to asthma triggers and controlling inflammation.

If your asthma is not controlled with steroids or other methods, bronchial thermoplasty may be an option. Doctors use an electrode to heat the inside of your airways. This procedure helps relax the airways to help you breathe easier.

When in doubt, its always best to ask for help. When left untreated, uncontrolled asthma can cause long-term damage to your lungs that can make it even more difficult to breathe.

If your asthma symptoms are not improving, schedule an appointment with a pulmonary specialist at the Temple Lung Center.

Tips To Make Winter Easier On Your Asthma

Don’t let the cold, dry air or a common cold worsen your asthma symptoms. Follow these tips to stay healthy when the temperatures dip.


Unless you love stepping outside to cold, dry air that smacks you in the face, winter can be a dreary season. For people with asthma, the cold weather can worsen their symptoms.

There are two issues with winter for people with asthma, notes Marilyn Li, MD, an allergist and immunologist with the LAC+USC Healthcare Network in Los Angeles. One is that the air is cold and dry, and the other is people have more sinus and upper respiratory infections, either of which can trigger or worsen asthma attacks.

To keep a handle on asthma attacks during the cold-weather months, here are 10 things you can do.

  • Wash your hands. Properly washing your hands with soap and water is one of simplest and best ways to avoid spreading or catching colds and other viruses, Dr. Li advises. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers and moist towelettes also do the trick. Also emphasize the importance of good hand washing to your children to even further reduce the chances of spreading germs around your house.
  • Dont sit by the fireplace. While sitting by the fire sounds lovely and cozy, its not so great for your asthma. The more evidence we have, the more we realize that burning wood is like burning tobacco, explains Todd Rambasek, MD, of ENT & Allergy Health Services in Cleveland. Smoke is smoke, and smoke can irritate your lungs, especially when you have asthma.
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    Food Additives And Asthma

    Food preservatives, food colorings, and flavoring agents have been found to cause asthma attacks in some people, so make sure to read food labels. Sodium bisulfite, potassium bisulfite, sodium metabisulfite, potassium metabisulfite, and sodium sulfite are all potential triggers. Sulfites are the most common, Zitt explains. “Some people have trouble with delicatessen meats that are high in nitrites, while others may experience asthma symptoms from monosodium glutamate or from yellow food coloring containing tartrazine. Still, he adds, the scientific evidence regarding some of these potential triggers remains in dispute.

    How Can I Reduce My Risk Of An Asthma Attack If I Have A Cold Or The Flu

    Asthma attack warning: Cold UK weather can trigger ...

    1. If youve got a preventer inhaler, take it every day, as prescribed. This helps to control inflammation in your lungs, which reduces the risk of having an asthma attack. Learn how to improve your inhaler technique through our short videos.

    2. Carry your reliever inhaler with you – its usually blue. See your GP, pharmacist or asthma nurse if you:

    • need to take your reliever inhaler three or more times a week
    • have asthma symptoms three or more times a week
    • wake up one night a week because of your asthma symptoms.

    3. Keep your medicines close, so you can reach them if you’re ill in bed – you still need to take your preventer inhaler as prescribed.

    4. Don’t ignore your symptoms, especially if you feel breathless or wheezy – you might think it’s ‘just a cold’, but remember it could trigger a potentially life-threatening asthma attack.

    5. Rest at home. Take paracetamol for aches and pains and drink lots of water to avoid getting dehydrated. Flu especially can really wipe you out, so dont try to do too much too soon.

    6. Book an asthma review with your doctor or asthma nurse. Ask them to update your asthma action plan, as this can help you stay well.

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    Laughter Or Crying And Asthma

    Extreme emotional states like heavy laughter or intense crying can prompt an asthma attack by changing breathing patterns and restricting airflow. Its a form of hyperventilation, which, like exercise, tends to trigger an asthmatic response in people with underlying airway inflammation, Zitt says.

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    Can The Weather Affect My Childs Asthma

    Yes. Weather conditions can bring on asthma symptoms. Some kids asthma symptoms get worse at certain times of the year. For others, a severe storm or sudden weather change can trigger a flare-up.

    Cold, dry air is a common asthma trigger and can cause bad flare-ups. Thats especially true for people who play winter sports and have exercise-induced asthma.

    Hot, humid air also can be a problem. In some places, heat and sunlight combine with pollutants to create ground-level ozone. This kind of ozone can be a strong asthma trigger.

    Wet weather and windy weather can cause problems too. Wet weather encourages mold growth, and wind can blow mold and pollen through the air.

    If you think weather plays a role in your childs asthma, keep a diary of asthma symptoms and possible triggers and discuss them with your doctor. If pollen, mold, or other allergens make asthma symptoms worse, ask about allergy testing.

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    What Precautions Should People With Asthma Take

    Make sure your asthma is under control before winter arrives. See your doctor to develop an asthma action plan and then take the medicines your doctor prescribes. You may take medicine every day or just when you need it .

    Long-term controller medicines are drugs you take every day to manage your asthma symptoms. They include:

    Note: Long-acting beta-agonists are always used alongside inhaled corticosteroids.

    Quick-relief medicines are drugs that you only take when you need them, such as before exercising in the cold. Short-acting bronchodilators and anticholinergics are examples of these drugs.

    How To Handle Asthma In The Winter

    Cold dry air is an asthma trigger

    What can you do to ease symptoms if winter weather affects your asthma?

    • Limit outdoor exercise. Work out at home or in the gym.
    • Wear a scarf and use it to warm the air youre breathing.
    • Use humidifiers in your home. Keep them free of mold.
    • Wash hands frequently. Washing with soap for 20 seconds or using hand sanitizer while out can keep winter illnesses at bay.
    • Be conscious of your hands. Keep them away from your face and eyes to avoid spreading germs.
    • Get the flu vaccine in early fall.
    • Have an Asthma Action Plan in place. Know what to do in case of a flare-up.
    • Limit time with pets if youre allergic to pet dander. Keep your bedroom pet-free.
    • If dust mites and mold trigger your symptoms, keep your home cool and dry to inhibit their growth.
    • Clean and replace filters in your heating and cooling air ducts. Make sure filters are cleaned at the start of every season. Check periodically to keep indoor air quality optimal.

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    Is Cold Air Good For Asthma

    Cold air is bad for most people with asthma as it tends to irritate the bronchial tubes and trigger asthma symptoms.

    If you have asthma, it may be best for you to stay indoors as much as possible during cold winter weather. Be sure to monitor indoor air quality and install HEPA filters in your ventilation systems. Watch for signs of mold and remove it as quickly as possible. Install dust mite-proof pillows and mattress covers in your bedding. Consider buying an air purifier or air cleaner to help remove pet dander and other allergens from your indoor air.

    Modern homes have better windows and insulation. They are less drafty and conserve heat better. But that means bedding, furniture, carpets and curtains can hold on to moisture, encouraging dust mites to breed. Keep your home below 50% humidity and use dehumidifiers to help keep dust mites from breeding. When the weather allows, open your windows for one hour per day to reduce humidity in the house.

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    How Can My Story Help Others

    When I provide virtual asthma education to families, I share stories to help them remember things. When we talk about asthma triggers, I share The Yogurt Story. That story helped someone realize they had asthma!

    Before COVID, I was helping a family learn more about asthma. An older family member was nearby, but I didn’t think they were listening. Later, they became sick and started coughing. That family member told the parent that they thought they had asthma. When the parent questioned them, the family member said they overheard my Yogurt Story. And they realized that every time they ate or drank something cold, they started coughing too.

    The parent took this sick family member into the clinic, and they were also diagnosed with asthma. Wow! It did help to share The Yogurt Story.

    Do cold weather and/or cold food or drinks affect your asthma too?

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    Are Air Conditioners Good For Asthma

    Air conditioners are nice. They keep the air cool and refreshing. They can reduce humidity and airborne triggers. The combination of these effects can improve asthma control. They can make breathing easier. But, they may also trigger asthma if not properly maintained.

    So, the best A/C units will have “CERTIFIED asthma & allergy friendly┬« filters.” These are capable of filtering 98% of airborne allergens. Turn it on. Use the recirculate setting. You’ll feel more comfortable. Your lungs will be happier.

    How Does Cold Air Affect Asthma Symptoms

    5 Asthma Attack Symptoms That You Should Know

    Our airways are lined with a thin layer of fluid and so when we breathe in dry air, that thin layer of fluid evaporates faster than it can be replaced. When our airways are dry, they become irritated and swollen. This will then trigger your asthma symptoms.

    In addition, the cold air also increases the mucus because aside from the thin layer of fluid, our airways are lined with a layer of protective mucus which aids in the removal of unhealthy particles. During the winter season, our body produces more mucus which is thicker and stickier. The extra mucus produced will make you more prone to catch a cold or other infection.

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    What Can You Do To Prevent Asthma Attacks During Winter

    There are ways to prevent asthma attacks during winter. You can always stay in the comforts of your home, however, there will always be days wherein you need to go outside. Here are some of the things you can do:

    Dr. Paul Jantzi, a board-certified allergist and immunologist, provides allergy treatments in Texas with office locations in Bastrop, Brenham, College Station, Columbus, Giddings, and La Grange. You can contact him at any of the Brazos Valley Allergy & Asthma Clinics for professional allergy, asthma, and immunology services at six locations throughout the Brazos Valley. They provide the best care and affordable treatments for patients who have asthma.

    Disclaimer: Information on this website is not intended to be used in place of your professional medical advice or treatment. Please consult your doctor or healthcare provider with any questions regarding a medical condition.

    How Winter Can Affect Asthma

    Asthma symptoms can worsen in different environments and may vary with the seasons, and winter is no exception. Aside from dry, cold winter weather irritating airways, more time spent indoors means more exposure to indoor irritants . Winter can also bring an increased risk of viruses that can aggravate your asthma.

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    What Else Should I Know About Cold Air And Asthma

    Every persons asthma is different. If cold weather triggers your asthma symptoms, you should treat it as you would any other flare-up.

    Monitor the weather and try to stay inside on the very coldest days. Wear a scarf or face mask if you must go out. Guard your health so a virus doesnt cause an asthma flare-up. Humidify the air indoors to the level that makes your breathing most comfortable.

    Follow your doctors direction for medication use. If you are prescribed an inhaler or other medication to manage your asthma, dont skip using it when youre feeling fine. Always follow the plan you have in place to avoid unnecessary flare-ups.

    • Make sure all your prescriptions are current. Refill if needed.
    • Your Asthma Action Plan should include how to handle asthma when you have no symptoms, if symptoms begin, and if they become severe. Be prepared for all eventualities.
    • Keep a notebook to write down notes whenever symptoms worsen. This could shed light on new or old triggers. Keep track of your medication usage your doctor will appreciate a big-picture view.

    Tips To Help Prevent Cold Weather Asthma

    Common Asthma Triggers

    Even though it can be challenging during winter for those with asthma, here are a few things that you can do as a parent to help your child enjoy this time of year.

    1. Bundle Up

    If possible, dont let your child go outside if the temperature drops below 10┬░ F. If they have to go outside, be sure they wear warm, weather-appropriate clothing. One thing that should also be considered is wearing a scarf or fabric mask over the face. Wearing one of these over the mouth and nose can help prevent cold-weather asthma by warming the air before it reaches the lungs.

    2. Use your inhaler

    If your child plans on exercising or playing outside in the cold weather,ask your healthcare professional about having them use their inhaler 15-30 minutes before they go outside. This will open their airways, making it easier for them to breathe in the cold air.

    Also, be sure to have their inhaler nearby while they are outside. Even though they took their inhaler ahead of time, they could still experience an asthma attack from extreme cold. Either have them keep it in their pocket if theyre responsible, or hold onto it yourself and monitor their activity.

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    What Are The Symptoms Of A Cold

    Cold symptoms often begin with throat discomfort or sore throat. That discomfort is followed by clear, watery nasal discharge sneezing fatigue and sometimes a slight fever. Postnasal drip from your nose and sinuses can cause you to have a cough.

    For the first few days of a cold, your nose is filled with watery nasal secretions. These secretions may become thicker and darker. Dark mucus does not necessarily mean that you have developed a bacterial infection. However, since a cold may trigger your asthma, be especially watchful for symptoms.


    • Chest tightness

    What Can You Do If Youre Having An Asthma Attack

    If you start to wheeze or feel short of breath, refer to the asthma action plan you wrote up with your doctor.

    If your symptoms are so severe that you cant speak, take your quick-acting medicine and seek immediate medical attention. You may need to stay under observation until your breathing stabilizes.

    Here are some other general guidelines for what to do if you have an asthma attack:

    • Take two to six puffs from a quick-acting rescue inhaler. The medicine should open up your airways and help you breathe easier.
    • You may also be able to use a nebulizer instead of an inhaler. A nebulizer is a machine that turns your medicine into a fine mist that you breathe in.
    • If your symptoms arent severe but they dont improve with the first few puffs from your inhaler, wait 20 minutes and then take another dose.
    • Once you feel better, call your doctor. You may need to keep taking your quick-acting medicine every few hours for a day or two.

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