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
How To Recognize Early Asthma Attack Symptoms
Common symptoms of asthma:
- Chest tightness
- Breathing rapidly
An asthma attack occurs when these symptoms intensify. Recognizing these symptoms as they worsen can prevent an attack from becoming life-threatening.
According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, five things happen during an asthma attack:
- The airway branches become more sensitive and react to things that may trigger an asthma attack.
- The lining of the lungs swells, becoming more and more inflamed.
- Mucus begins to clog the airways.
- Bronchospasm occurs, which is when the muscles surrounding the airways tighten.
- It becomes increasingly more difficult to move air through the airways.
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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The Danger Of Cold Weather And Copd
Winter is coming. Heres what you need to know.
For anyone who suffers from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease , cold weather conditions can often bring out the worst symptoms. Cold temperatures can regularly lead to fatigue, and even windy days can cause shortness of breath. Its no secret that many suffering from the disease have found their symptoms become aggravated during colder weather. The effect of cold temperatures on respiratory health has been the subject of study for quite some time, and researchers have even found direct links between cold weather and COPD hospital admissions.
With your health in mind, the Lung Health Institute is here to provide you with the information you need to avoid the danger of cold weather and COPD so that you stay healthy this winter.
Asthma & Allergy Care In Mississippi
If you suffer from asthma that worsens in certain weather conditions, it is important to have a plan of action.
The doctors at Mississippi Asthma & Allergy Clinic know that prevention of symptoms is the best form or treatment. We will work with you to figure out what scenarios trigger your symptoms so you can avoid them, as well as develop a routine care plan to keep asthma at bay. Schedule your appointment at one of our five convenient locations!
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In Summary How Do I Handle Extreme Temperatures
The right balance in core body temperature of between 36 oC and 38 oC is essential for helping to balance the lung functionality. Once the temperature drops below or above these core temperatures, then it may result in coughing as the body tries to remove the irritants which are causing the airway walls to become dried out and agitated. Sadly, this is either the hot dry air, or the cold dry air which we are breathing, and it may result in consistent coughing.
The best way to handle this to breath through the nose and/or have a barrier like a clothing which can help hydrate and heat or cool the air before it enters the lungs.
Understanding Humidity And Asthma
In the simplest terms, humidity is the amount of water or moisture in the air. When the media talks about humidity levels, theyre referring to what is known as relative humidity.1 This is the percentage of water in the air, compared to the maximum amount of water the air can actually hold at the current temperature. Hot air can hold more moisture than cold air. So, a relative humidity level of 70% on a hot day is going to feel a lot wetter than the same humidity level on a cold day.
According to the National Weather Service, humidity during hot summer months of less than 55 percent is comfortable. Fifty-five to 65 percent humidity begins to feel sticky, and anything over 65% is oppressive.2 You can expect that humidity becomes an irritant type trigger for many asthmatics at levels of 65% and higher.
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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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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.
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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.
Spending More Time Inside Can Trigger Asthma
Cold air can trigger an asthma attack, so many people with asthma avoid going outside in the winter. But indoor air isnt necessarily better. Indoor air can be filled with dust, dander, and mold that can cause asthma attacks, too.
Indoor air is often warm and dry, and central heating systems circulate cold and flu viruses through offices and schools. Dry air irritates your airways, leaving you susceptible to an asthma attack.
Your body naturally produces mucus to line and protect your sinuses, throat, lungs, and more from drying out. It keeps your airways moist, but dry air can make it evaporate quickly and lead to irritation. Once your airways are inflamed, they swell up and make it hard to breathe.
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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.
Why Does Cold Air Make Asthma Worse
You would think cooler weather would make breathing easier, and it can sometimes, but it also brings its own challenges. “Cold air can trigger asthma,”Ratika Gupta, MD, a New York-based physician who is board-certified in internal medicine and allergy/immunology, and author of What? I Could be Allergic to That?!, told POPSUGAR.
“The nose and mouth warm the air prior to the air reaching the lungs. In the presence of cold air, it’s harder for the body to warm up the air,” Dr. Gupta explained. “Inhalation of cold air can cause injury to the lining of the airways, which expose nerves. These nerves then cause the airways to be overactive,” which may result in spasms.
Working out in the cold can be especially difficult for those with asthma, because “exposure to cold air can also increase the number of inflammatory cells in the airways,” Dr. Gupta said, causing the airways to become more obstructed. “Also, cold air may decrease the activity of the cilia, which are hair-like structures that help clear pollutants.” Pollutants are never good news for the lungs.
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Why Humid Conditions Make Asthma Worse
Research reported in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine suggests that shortness of breath and coughing is made worse in hot, humid environments. Its thought that these conditions affect the normal functions of the air passages through heat stress, and can lead to increased asthma attacks. Trapped pollutants, such as ozone and exhaust fumes, in the air only make things worse for city dwellers. Its well known that during the hot summer months, and especially at the peak in late summer, trips to the emergency room become more frequent.
As humidity rises, other summer pollutants present additional irritants, and these can include:
- Smoke from fires, whether natural or from barbecue fires
- Rising pollen counts
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Why Does Cold Weather Make My Asthma Worse
When its cold, the air is colder and drier
Breathing in dry, cold air irritates your airways. Your lungs then react to this by becoming tighter and this makes it more difficult to breathe.
Our bodies are designed to respond to changes in air temperature. However, some people are more sensitive to changes in temperature and may have a stronger reaction, which includes asthma symptoms that are set off by cold air. The good news is, your asthma is less likely to be triggered by cold weather if its well controlled.
You can also help yourself by trying to breathe through your nose more, rather than just your mouth. This is because when you breathe through your nose, cold air is warmed up by passing through your nose, throat and then your upper airways. If you just breathe through your mouth, this warming up process doesnt happen, which means the cold air dries out the moisture in your lungs.
Cold air makes you produce more mucus
When its cold, you might produce more mucus than you normally would.
This is because when cold air enters your nose, the vessels in your nasal cavity get bigger and congested, which causes more mucus to be produced. This extra mucus is produced because your body is trying to create perfect conditions, by adding warmth and humidity, while also filtering the air thats going into your body. This extra mucus is why you can get a runny nose in winter.
Cold weather brings colds and flu
Cold weather forces us indoors
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How Does The Humidity Affect Asthma
Many asthmatics can feel a humid day coming on. As the humidity rises, they might start to have some coughing and shortness of breath. When the humidity begins going over 60 percent, thats when people tend to start feeling it the most. But, not only is the weather itself causing asthmatics issues, but the higher humidity is also a cause for things like smog and other air pollutants like ozone and car exhaust.
This is why you will often hear about the Air Quality Index and warnings to stay inside when the air quality is at certain unhealthier levels. In addition to the air quality though, is the fact that the higher humidity is a breeding ground for mold and dust mites which also tend to irritate the lungs. And, on top of all that, the pollen levels will tend to go up causing those with allergic asthma to have their allergies and asthma go haywire.
Dont be fooled into believing that high humidity is the only thing to look out for though. The cold/dry air can also cause your asthma to flare up. Cold air naturally acts to shrink your airways. And, this is what causes the asthma flare in the first place.
If you typically have exercise-induced asthma, you will find that the more you huff and puff to rapidly breathe in during the cold, the more likely you are to have a flare. This is because you are breathing rapidly and also end up inhaling through your mouth which makes the air more dry and colder than usual.
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.
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How Cold Air Affects Asthma
The lungs in a person with asthma are much more sensitive than those in a person who does not have the respiratory condition. Cold air in the lungs of an asthmatic causes whats called a bronchospasm, which is inflammation of the lungs. Muscles around the bronchial tubes becomes contracted and narrow, leading to greater difficulty in breathing. An increase in mucus also contributes to wheezing, coughing and tightness in the chest.
If a person with asthma has it under control, then they can limit the amount of winter-time asthma attacks they experience. But for a person who does not have their asthma well managed, winter can be a nightmare full of scary situations every time they step outside their front door.