Why Does My Asthma Get Worse In Winter
Home& gt& gtWhy does my asthma get worse in winter?
People with asthma can react to cold air and become susceptible to viruses and flu, which can bring on asthma symptoms.
We understand the management of your asthma can be challenging and sometimes complicated. We also know winter can be a difficult, tiring, and frustrating season for people with asthma. But having good asthma control means fewer asthma flare-ups, doctor visits, time off work, and hospitalisations.
So, as we head into winter, here are five actions you can take to help be asthma-ready for winter.
Impact Of Cold Air On Asthma
For people with asthma, cold air and the winter season can be a source of worry and stress, not knowing how and if they may be able to breathe properly over winter.
Exposure to cold air can bring on asthma symptoms. This can be problematic for people with asthma and interfere with their quality of life, interrupting planned activities over the winter.
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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Tips To Ease Winter Asthma Symptoms
Cold weather can be tough on people with asthma, even here in California where temperatures can drop to the 40s. If it feels like your asthma symptoms get worse during the winter months, you likely arent imagining it. Research shows hospital admissions due to asthma increase during the winter months.
Cold air can aggravate asthma symptoms and make the condition more difficult to control. There are things you can do to control asthma during the winter and keep yourself as healthy as possible.
What Can Trigger My Asthma In Winter
Everyone with asthma has their own mix of triggers. Here are some common winter triggers and easy ways you can deal with them.
Colds and flu
Colds and flu are a top winter trigger, with 75% of people with asthma saying their symptoms get worse when they have a cold or the flu.
As well as remembering to take your preventer inhaler as prescribed, you can also protect yourself against colds and flu by:
- washing your hands often
See our colds and flu page for more tips on how to reduce your risk of catching a cold or the flu if you have asthma.
Chest infections are more common in winter and if you have asthma, you may be more at risk of getting one. Chest infections can also make your asthma symptoms worse, as they inflame your airways.
One of the things you can do to reduce your risk of getting a chest infection is to try to protect yourself from colds and flu.
Cold or damp air
You might notice that your asthma symptoms get worse when its cold. Dont worry, youre not alone. Cold air is dry, which irritates your airways. It can also make you produce more mucus, which can make your asthma feel worse.
If cold air affects your asthma, there are plenty of ways you can protect your airways from the cold, including wrapping a lightweight scarf loosely around your nose and mouth when outside. This warms the air you breathe in, so its less likely to irritate your airways.
Damp and mould
Weve got more tips on what to do if youve got damp or mould in your home.
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Does Asthma Get Worse In Winter Heres What You Need To Know
Have you noticed that the sudden drop in temperature has made your asthma symptoms worse?
Its believed around 5.5 million people in the UK and Ireland are currently receiving treatment for asthma, and the charity Asthma UK says its not uncommon for asthma symptoms to get worse over the festive season.
Looking after your respiratory health is important at any time of the year and especially so this winter, with the ongoing spread of Covid-19 to factor in too.
Why does asthma get worse in winter?
Asthma can be harder to control during winter months for a few reasons. Ruth Morrow, a respiratory nurse specialist from the Asthma Society of Ireland says people often find their unwelcome asthma symptoms flaring up at this time of year, because there are more triggers lurking around.
Changes to the temperature and cold air are a very common trigger for people with asthma and they can affect the airways, causing them to narrow, says Morrow.
Then theres all those cold and flu viruses going around. A cold or respiratory tract infection can exacerbate symptoms for people with asthma.
Both of these triggers can irritate and inflame the airways, increasing the risk of someone with asthma having a potentially life-threatening asthma attack, says Jessica Kirby, head of health advice at Asthma UK and British Lung Foundation .
How can I relieve asthma symptoms this winter?
1. Manage your asthma properly
2. Dress for the chilly weather
3. Crank up the heating
How To Manage Asthma In The Cold
Generally, triggers are only a problem when asthma is not well-controlled but for others, when it comes to cold and flu this time of year, is hard to avoid.
An Asthma Action Plan, written by a doctor, highlights the daily preventer and reliever medications required for the individual, and what to do if symptoms are getting worse.
It can also set out what to do in different weather and trigger conditions.
For parents and carers of children with asthma , we encourage you to discuss with teachers or other important contacts, your childs condition, and whether they are impacted by the cold.
Also make sure schools and/or early learning centres have a copy of the childs written Asthma Action Plan and that you have taken in their reliever medication, spacer and a mask, if appropriate for the type of puffer and age of the child.
If using a preventer is part of the written Asthma Action Plan, make sure they are taking it as prescribed, especially now in the lead up to winter.
Consistent and controlled asthma prevention is the best way to make sure people with asthma breathe and live freely.
For more information regarding asthma and the cold as a trigger, call an Asthma Educator on 1800 ASTHMA .
AirPhysio is a partner of Asthma Australia. AirPhysio has not been involved in the development of this article.
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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.
Proactive Steps For Controlling Asthma In The Winter
If your child has asthma, finding a pediatric pulmonologist is key in creating an action plan. This is especially true if your child was recently diagnosed as the weather is turning colder and winter is near. A pulmonologist can provide your child with long and short-term medicines to help control the symptoms of asthma. Long-term medicines can help control your childs asthma and help reduce the risk of asthma attacks before they even start.
Also, quick-relief medicines can be taken when your child is experiencing an asthma attack or shortly before its onset. In addition to talking with a pediatric pulmonology NYC expert, help your child take the following precautions to ensure their asthma is under control during the winter.
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The Link Between Winter And Asthma
There are several reasons why cold weather is particularly challenging for those who suffer from asthma.
The biggest one that comes to mind is infection rates, says Dr. Canfield.
Certain viruses, including the flu, and illnesses such as upper respiratory infections are more frequent in winter. We tend to spend more time indoors, which means were in close contact with others who may expose us to these contagions, thus potentially worsening asthmas bronchial symptoms.
A host of allergens poses another threat when we hunker down inside and keep the windows closed. Seemingly innocuous things like pet dander and house dust to more problematic issues like mold can worsen or trigger asthma symptoms. Airways of the lungs can become inflamed and swollen, and asthma sufferers may experience increased coughing and wheezing.
Getting allergy tested and getting the advice of an allergist is helpful, says Dr. Canfield. Its important for people to know if they have allergic triggers to their asthma and how to avoid those.
There are specific things you can do around the house to limit your exposure, such as using allergen-proof bedding and covers, avoiding excessive humidifying, and ensuring proper ventilation in your home.
Threats dont solely exist indoors, however.
What Are Some Tips On Preventing Asthma Attacks Triggered By Cold Weather
If you have asthma, you already know prevention is your best strategy. Go back to the basics:
Drink a lot of water, broth-based soups and decaffeinated tea to keep yourself hydrated.
Wash your hands often in soap and water to prevent respiratory illnesses such as the cold and flu.
Dress warmly when you go out. Keep a scarf, gloves and extra jacket in your car just in case.
Breathe through your nose when youre outside. Your nasal passages warm the air before it moves into your lungs.
Get the flu vaccine, which will lower your risk of getting this years flu.
Carry your inhaler with you all the time.
Find alternative ways to exercise if you usually exercise outdoors. Make sure the place where you exercise has good air circulation.
If you have an indoor fireplace, try to keep it empty when not in use. Avoid outdoor firepits, or sit at a comfortable distance.
Use a humidifier indoors, especially at night when you sleep.
Keep up with your daily asthma medications and refilling them, and do not skip doses.
If you know youre prone to winter month attacks, make a plan with your doctor.
If you do have an asthma attack, follow your asthma action care plan you and your provider discussed to get your symptoms under control.
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Yes Your Asthma Can Get Worse In Cold Weather
Spring may be just around the corner, but Seattleites know that doesnt necessarily mean warmer weather right away. For people with asthma, this means your condition could be exacerbated by winters leftovers even though there isnt much pollen in the air yet.
Colds and the flu, which are more common this time of year, can also trigger asthma, as can changing weather conditions and exercising in cold weather. Other triggers are indoor allergens like dust and mold that most of us spend more time with while avoiding the rain and dreariness outside.
Why Can Cold Air Trigger Asthma
People with asthma have airways that are more sensitive, and prone to inflammation. Cold air can lead to dryness in the airways, the tightening of the muscles around the airways and impair the normal function of the airways to clear inhaled substances. All of this can lead to an increase in asthma symptoms.
In Australia, we are generally used to breathing warm, humid air which is what our lungs need to stay vital and healthy and clear debris that we breathe in.
Cold and dry air conditions make it harder for our lungs to do the things it needs to in order to make our breathing easy and keep us healthy.
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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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Get Air Smart This Winter
When you are air smart, you know the quality of the air you are breathing in.
Try the air quality monitoring app AirRater, or make your states air quality index is one of your favourite sites. Check the information regularly.
Consider whether you would benefit from an air purifier. There are many on the market, so do your own research to find out what is best for your situation.
If poor air quality is an issue where you live or work, try and make your environment the best it can be. Use the air-conditioner on reverse cycle and make the space as airtight as possible.
Clean-air shelters can also help to provide a haven for short periods of time.
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What Does The Flu Have To Do With My Childs Asthma
Influenza is on the top of our mind in the winter, especially for kids with asthma. In fact, asthma is the most common medical condition among children who are hospitalized with the flu according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention .
Because people with asthma often have swollen, sensitive airways, they are more likely to develop serious health complications such as pneumonia if they do come down with the flu. Plus, the influenza virus in the lungs can trigger asthma symptoms even if their asthma is mild or symptoms are well-controlled by medication.
Here are two ways you can help prevent your child from getting the flu:
Wash hands frequently.Good hand washing is the first line of defense against the spread of many illnesses. It is by far the best way to keep kids from getting sick. Teach your children how to wash their hands properly with soap and water to help stop the spread of germs. Even when kids follow proper hand hygiene, itâs best to encourage them to keep their hands away from their face.
Get the flu shot.If your child has asthma and gets the flu, the illness could be much worse for them. They best way to protect them from this is to get the flu shot. The flu shot is safe and effective. Although there is no guarantee that the vaccine will prevent 100 percent of flu symptoms, it can limit the severity and duration of the infection. It may even reduce the chances your child will need to be hospitalized due to the virus.
Cold Air And Asthma = Winter Asthma
Does cold weather affect asthma?Absolutely! Cold weather is a common asthma trigger. Wintertime can be a potentially dangerous time of year for many people with asthma.
To understand your triggers, picture your bronchial tubes, the airways that carry air to your lungs, as branches on a tree. A person with asthma has a certain amount of inflammation in these airways all the time. Inflammation causes them to narrow and makes it harder for air to get to the lungs. This is why people with asthma have a harder time breathing even if theyre not having a flare-up.
Changes in weather and fluctuations in temperature are known to inflame airways and trigger asthma flares. For people with bronchial tubes that are already inflamed, the impact of cold weather on breathing can be significant.
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Managing Your Asthma During The Winter Season
- 15 Jan, 2018
While spring and summer pollen is often thought of as the primary asthma hazard, other seasons present their own challenges. As temperatures dip, you may notice your symptoms worsening both in the home and outside. Thankfully, there are ways to manage this condition while still enjoying the holidays. Whether you, your child, or another loved one suffers from asthma, these five tips will help keep winter safe, active, and comfortable.Avoiding Smoke From Wood Fireplaces Wood stoves may provide a warm and cozy atmosphere on cold nights, but they can also have an impact on your lungs. Whenever you smell that familiar aroma of a crackling fire, you are breathing in irritating particles of smoke. This exposure adds up over time, increasing your chances of developing conditions like bronchitis and even certain cancers. If you have a wood stove in your home and notice your breathing seems to be getting worse, it may be wise to limit its use or invest in a better air circulation system. When visiting homes with wood stoves, do your best to stay on the other side of the room, where leaking smoke is less likely to trigger an asthmatic response. Leave the room and take a walk if you notice the early symptoms of an asthma attack.
Managing Holiday Stress
Warming Frosty Air As You Breathe
Keeping Your Sinuses Clear
Moving Activities Indoors