How To Manage Asthma Symptoms During Winter
Although there is nothing you can do to completely get rid of your asthma symptoms during cold weather, there are plenty of things you can do to minimize your symptoms and make life more enjoyable. Here are a few things you should plan on doing this winter season if you want to avoid being miserable until next spring.
- Exercise indoors instead of outdoors.
- Take your asthma medication 10 15 minutes before you leave the house or exercise.
- Bundle up appropriately for cold weather, even if you are only planning to be outside for a few minutes.
- Try to keep the nasal passages clear with irrigation, saline spray or decongestants.
- Stay indoors on particularly symptomatic days or when the weather is extremely dry and cold.
- Always keep an emergency inhaler with you.
- Wear a scarf over your nose and mouth when you are outdoors.
If you do all of these things, you give yourself a better opportunity at managing your asthma symptoms and enjoying the winter season like you should.
Cold Weather Exercise And Asthma
Exercising outdoors in cold weather may be a problem for people with asthma as both cold air and exercise are known triggers.
When you exercise, you tend to breathe in and out of your mouth instead of your nose. But its your nose that filters the air you breathe in, warming it up and adding moisture to it before it reaches your airways. So air breathed in through your mouth will be colder and drier when it gets to the airways than if it came via your nose.
This can also dry out the moisture layer that lines your airways.
If youre breathing in through your mouth during exercise you may also be taking in pollutants from the environment, such as dust and dirt. These may also irritate your airways and cause asthma symptoms to develop.
Can The Weather Affect My Child’s 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.
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 child’s 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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Paying For Your Medicines
Most adults with asthma will need to pay a prescription charge for their medicines.
If you need to take a lot of medicines, paying for each item individually could get quite expensive. You may find it cheaper to get a prescription prepayment certificate. This is where you pay a one-off charge for all your prescriptions over a 3- or 12-month period.
You will not need to pay for your medicines if you do not normally pay prescription charges. For example, all under-16s are entitled to free prescriptions.
Read more about prescription costs to find out if youre entitled to help with your prescription charges.
Triggers For Winter Asthma
A trigger is something that causes you to have an asthma attack. This can vary from person-to-person, but common triggers include pets and pet dander, dust and mold and cold, dry air. When a person with asthma encounters a trigger it becomes more difficult for them to breathe and can lead to coughing, wheezing, and difficulty catching your breath.
In the winter time, cold air can be a trigger for asthma. Not only does cold air trigger asthma symptoms, but it is also related to many upper respiratory infections that can be far worse in individuals with asthma.
The many ways in which cold air affects our breathing include:
- Cold air reduces the effectiveness of the mucus transport whose responsibility is to trap particles and organisms so they do not enter the lungs. Cold air causes mucus to become thicker, making it harder to remove dangerous particles.
- Cold air affects the nose by once again causing mucus to become thicker, making it difficult to breath and leading to nasal congestion and stuffiness.
- When cold air enters the lungs they release histamines, which leads to wheezing this is worse in asthma sufferers.
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Seven Ways To Deal With Cold
Asthma doesnt mean you have to face a bleak winter. You can take steps to reduce cold-weather asthma attacks.
1. Limit exposure
If your kiddo coughs every time cold air hits their lungs, try to keep outside time to a minimum. Limit time outside as best you can, Dr. Thakur says.
2. Take your meds
Its always important to take asthma medications as prescribed. But thats especially true in the winter.
Inhaled steroids are medications that should be taken daily to reduce inflammation, even when you feels good, Dr. Thakur explains. Its especially important to use them regularly in the winter if youre sensitive to the cold.
3. Bundle up
A warm scarf tied over your childs mouth and nose can make the air they breathe a little less cold and dry.
4. Just add water
Using a humidifier at bedtime can help put a little moisture back into the winter air. Saline nasal sprays can also help moisten dried-out nasal passages, Dr. Thakur says.
5. Stay well
To avoid viral infections, steer clear of people with colds or the flu. Get in the habit of frequent hand washing to keep germs at bay.
6. Adjust activities
People with exercise-induced asthma when strenuous exercise causes airways to narrow tend to be sensitive to the cold, too. Try to limit physical activity when youre out in the chilly air.
7. Ask for help
Bring Your Inhaler With You
This goes without saying, but many folks forget theirs, especially when it starts to get nicer in early spring.
Carrying your rescue inhaler is recommended, and for those that are on maintenance inhalers, taking them as prescribed and practicing proper inhaler technique is necessary to get the most out of your inhaler, says Dr. Lan. If you feel your inhaler is not working and you have not been taught how to properly use your inhaler, ask your medical provider or pharmacist to show you how to use it.
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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.
Wet And Windy Weather Conditions:
Wet and windy weather can often cause problems for asthma sufferers.
Wet weather encourages mould growth and if it is also windy, this mould is blown through the air. If a person with asthma breathes in airborne mould, it will often triggers their asthma symptoms.
If you know wind and rain triggers your asthma, make sure to always keep an eye on the weather forecast. Try to stay inside during particularly bad days with the windows closed and keep your reliever inhaler close at all times.
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Winter Weather Advisory Cold Air And Asthma
Dry and/or cold air is a trigger for airway narrowing and can be a weather-related asthma trigger. When you breathe in cold, dry air through your mouth, the air doesn’t get warmed by your nose first. The cold air goes to your lungs and airways. This can trigger an asthma attack. Breathing through your mouth is more likely when you exercise or exert yourself such as shoveling snow or skiing.
Follow these steps for reducing your chances of having asthma symptoms triggered by cold air:
- Wear a scarf or face mask over your mouth.
- If you normally exercise outdoors, consider an indoor sport for the winter, like swimming or basketball.
- If you do need to be outdoors in cold weather, you may need to use your quick-relief inhaler before you go outdoors. Talk with your doctor about a pretreatment plan.
- Always carry your quick-relief inhaler with you and protect it from cold temperatures.
Knowing how to manage your asthma can reduce missed work days, reduce or prevent hospitalizations and allow you to do more of the activities you enjoy. Learn more about managing your asthma with our free ASTHMA Care for Adults program today.
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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How Air Conditioners Cause Asthma
Many physicians have come out to warn people against spending long hours in air-conditioned rooms to avoid triggering asthma attacks. As your air conditioner operates, it blows the small particles in the air which you later inhale unknowingly. Continuous running of the HVAC system triggers the growth of mold on surfaces of the home and subsequently leading to allergies, pneumonia and other respiratory infections.
It is worth noting that regular HVAC maintenance is significant. A clean and sufficiently running AC ensure that air being blown is cold and fresh. Humidity control, proper filtration and adequate ventilation all contribute to healthy indoor air quality.
How To Avoid A Cold
Triggers, such as pollen, dust mites, and cold weather, are conditions that cause asthma symptoms to worsen or flare up. Allergy-induced asthma is triggered by airborne substances, such as pollen, mold spores, or particles of skin and dried saliva shed by pets .
If you or someone you know has asthma, it is important to be aware of these causes so you can limit your exposure to them as much as possible. As winter approaches and temperatures begin to fall, the dry, cold air can trigger an asthma attack.
So, what are the causes of cold-induced asthma attacks, and how can you avoid them? Here are three reasons the winter months affect asthma attacks and how you can prepare for them this year:
Cold and/or dry air can narrow your airway, which is referred to as bronchoconstriction, or the constriction of the airways in the lungs. This results in coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath.
Your airway is lined with a layer of protective mucus to remove unhealthy particles. In cold temperatures, your body produces more mucus. The mucus in colder weather is thicker and stickier than normal. Allergic reactions can increase mucus production, which can make you susceptible to respiratory infections and increases your risk for catching a cold.
Exposure to germs
How to prepare for this year
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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:
- inhaled corticosteroids, such as fluticasone
- long-acting beta-agonists, such as salmeterol
- leukotriene modifiers, such as montelukast
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.
Whats Happening In Your Childs Body
When your childs airways come into contact with cold air, their body releases a chemical called Histamine. This is the same chemical released during anallergic reaction.
During an allergic reaction, it can cause swelling, itchiness, and trouble breathing. Histamine can cause the lungs to swell making the airways tighter. When their airways are tight it makes it harder to take a good breath, which can result in an asthma attack.
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Exercise Tips For Asthmatics During Winter Season
Exercise is very important for health, even if you have asthma. If you have asthma and still want to enjoy outdoor exercising in the winter, follow these tips.
- Ensure your mouth is covered, either with a neck scarf, ski mask, or turtle neck. Ensure your nose is also kept warm and that youre inhaling warm air as stated, inhaling cold air can lead to congestion.
- If it is very cold or there is a weather alert, avoid exercising or even shoveling the snow outdoors, this can be a risky time if you have asthma and it is more likely you will experience an attack.
Generally, for asthmatics, exercise should take place indoors during the winter, but even so there are some tips to help you better prevent an asthma attack.
- Ensure heating filters are changed.
- Use a humidifier in the room where you exercise indoor heat can be dry and irritate the lungs.
- Ensure the area is clean and dust-free.
Why Is Cold Weather Hard On People With Asthma
- Wild weather: Winter often brings rain, wind and fluctuations in air pressure, even for those in mild climates. Rainy and windy weather can stir up mold spores and barometric pressure changes can trigger sinusitis. These can also cause asthma flare-ups.
- Illnesses: Colds, flu and viruses are common in winter and can lead to more inflammation of your airways. Such illnesses thicken the mucus in bronchial tubes and make it harder to breathe. This can worsen symptoms or cause asthma flare-ups.
- Time spent indoors: When the weather is cold, you may stay inside longer with the windows closed and the heat on. And you may be exposed to more indoor allergens, irritants and respiratory viruses. For example, you could be at risk for an asthma flare if your symptoms are triggered by dust, mold or pet dander, or cigarette smoke if theres a smoker in the house.
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Can Cold Weather Trigger Asthma
For some people with asthma, the cold and dry autumn and winter air can induce asthma symptoms and trigger asthma flare-ups.
We know children and adults are more likely overall to be hospitalised for their asthma as the temperatures drop, according to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.
Researchers believe this is due to a range of factors including the cold and the level of moisture in the air. The cold weather is also accompanied by the other potential triggers during winter, such as cold and flu, viruses, dust and fires.
Tips To Avoid Asthma Attacks In Cold Weather
Managing asthma attacks is an important part of staying healthy all year long. But as the temperature dips, asthma attacks may become more common.
The winter brings colder weather and we spend more time indoors, which can increase the risk of an asthma attack, explains Vikas Pathak, M.D., an interventional pulmonologist with Riverside Pulmonary and Sleep Specialists.
Fortunately, there are simple things you can do to limit asthma flares in the winter months.
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Common Questions About Cold Weather Asthma
Here are a few of the most common questions people have about cold weather asthma and winter asthma triggers.
1. Can asthma be triggered by cold weather?
Temperature and humidity seem to exacerbate asthma symptoms. Cold, dry air is a common asthma trigger and can cause issues for those whoplay outdoor winter sports. Take precautions and talk to your physician about using an inhaler or taking other medicines to manage cold weather asthma.
2. What helps asthma in cold weather?
There are several things you can do to minimize the impact of winter asthma triggers. Get the flu shot and avoid contact with anyone showing signs of a respiratory virus. Dont sit by awood-burning fireplace. Replace your HVAC filters frequently. Exercise indoors and avoid prolonged activity outside in colder weather. Finally, consider using aportable spirometer to monitor lung health.
3. How cold is too cold for asthma?
According to medical experts, people with cold-weather asthma should avoid going outdoors when the temperature falls below 10°F.
4. Is asthma worse in winter?
Asthma is a chronic condition that does not go away. However, asthma triggers differ from person to person. For those with cold-weather asthma, cold dry air can irritate their airways and cause bronchial spasms. There is also an increased risk of contracting a respiratory virus during the winter. A cold orflu can make asthma more difficult to manage.
5. Is cold or hot air better for asthma?
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