Chronic Skin And Throat Irritation
When humidity levels are extremely low, you lose more water vapor through respiration and the pores in your skin. This can cause chronic dry skin, chapped lips, a scratchy throat, and an itchy nose. As you rub your nose or swallow repeatedly to rid yourself of this feeling, you actually cause more irritation and inflammation to these delicate passageways.
How To Handle Asthma In The Winter
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.
Avoid Things That Bother Your Lungs
Staying away from substances like smoke, chemical fumes, dust, and air pollution is the best way to both prevent and treat bronchitis. If you smoke and are having trouble quitting, talk with your doctor about what might work for you. If you canât stay away from the other substances if you work around them, for example wear a mask and open windows when possible.
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How To Control Asthma At Night With Air Conditioning
Asthma attacks at night are enough to frighten any person, let alone a young child. Not only can these attacks thoroughly scare a child, but they can also leave a child sleep deprived. If you suspect asthma attacks are preventing your child from sleeping soundly, here are a few tips that will help you achieve indoor air quality improvement with air conditioning.
Remove Allergens from Indoor Air
The air in most homes is tainted with allergens, especially during the summertime. Most allergens can trigger both allergies and asthma attacks. These asthma attack triggers include pollen from plants, dust mites, mold, and mildew.
Air conditioner units have filters that can improve indoor air quality by removing these allergens. Just ensure you replace the air filter of the unit regularly so that it remains functional and efficient.
Control Indoor Humidity
Another way you can use your air conditioning unit to control asthma attacks is by controlling the humidity in your home. High humidity environments are a major trigger for asthma attacks for most children. This is because humidity can trigger the inflammation of the bronchioles. This inflammation partially closes these air pathways, limiting both the inhalation and exhalation of air.
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, they’re 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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Why Is It Difficult To Breathe In Humidity
The simple answer is that when there is high humidity in the air, your lungs will not have enough space to breathe.
When there is more water content in the air, it displaces the oxygen molecules. Therefore, for every breath of air you take, it contains less oxygen. Thus, you have to struggle to breathe faster to make up for the less oxygen.
That is why you find yourself panting for breath after engaging even in a small physical exercise when it is summer and humidity is high.
In our article on whether 70 percent humidity is too high outside, we saw that high temperature holds more humidity and makes people very uncomfortable. That is why most people find it hard to exercise in summer.
Practicing Buteyko Breathing Technique
This is also a system of breathing exercises. Buteyko Breathing Technique focuses on breathing out through the nose and not the mouth. Breathing out through the mouth can dry up the mouth and the airways very fast resulting in more problems. Practising and using BBT also makes you less prone to suffering from respiratory infections. Buteyko Breathing Technique can also be instrumental in decreasing your asthma symptoms with the help of slow and gentle breathing through the nose.
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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.
What Is The Best Humidity Level For Asthma
High humidity is hard to breathe for people with asthma. Humid air activates nerves in the airways that make them get narrow. This makes it hard for asthma patients that already have narrow airways to breathe.
It is stagnant enough to carry pollutants and allergens that can trigger your asthma symptoms. These allergens thrive when the humidity levels are very high, like 60% to 80%. To control the humidity levels, you can install a hygrometer or humidistat to regulate it.
However, a low humidity level can also trigger asthmatic symptoms. The best humidity level for asthma and allergies is anyone from 30% to 50%. Anything lower or higher can affect you negatively.
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Avoid The Triggers You Can Control
Be aware of your usual triggers that might coincide with hot weather cigarette smoke, bushfires and pollen in particular. Air pollution and ozone levels can trigger asthma symptoms in some people with asthma.
Keep an eye on the weather alerts for high pollution or high ozone days. On days of high pollution or ozone, or when there is bushfire smoke, try to stay indoors with the doors and windows closed. Also try to do as little outdoor activity as possible, especially later in the day. If your asthma symptoms do start, act promptly to stop it turning into an asthma attack.
Checking The Air Quality
The air quality index indicates the daily level of pollutants, such as smog. Air quality levels vary daily and between locations. The more pollutants in the air, the harder it can be for a person with asthma to breathe.
The AQI measures air quality on a scale from 0500. The higher the number, the worse the air quality. Air quality tends to be worse on hot and humid days. Staying inside when the air quality is poor might prevent asthma symptoms developing.
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Causes Of Wheezing In Babies And Children
Newborns breathe only through the nose, so when they are congested or in the wrong position, they may make a wheezing or squeaking sound.
As long as they are breathing at a normal rate and the chest is not caving in, this is nothing to worry about.
If a babys chest begins caving, they are breathing rapidly, or wheezing is associated with an illness, they should be taken to a doctor or pediatrician.
When the airways narrow due to irritation, illness, or a blockage, air moving through them can make a squeaking sound.
Some people experience other symptoms as well, including discomfort when breathing or a choking sensation.
What Is The Connection Between Humidity And Asthma
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Weather, any time of the year, is not a friend to people with asthma. But hot, humid days can be some of the most challenging weather conditions we have to contend with.
Have you noticed that your breathing gets worse on days when the humidity rises over 50%? If so, you’re not alone.
I know that during the 30 years I lived in southern New Jersey, my asthma was definitely a lot worse than it’s been in the 3 years I’ve lived in southwestern Colorado. New Jersey, right on the Atlantic coast, has much higher humidity levels than the high desert and mountains of my current home. I especially felt the effects of heat and humidity during the summer allergy season.
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Increased Vulnerability To Infection
The mucus membranes in your nose and throat are your bodys first defense against airborne pathogens. When theyre healthy, they trap viruses that cause infection before they can travel deeper into your body and enter into your bloodstream.
When these membranes are dried out due to low humidity, theyre not effective at filtering pathogens. To make matters worse, when your nose and lips are split and irritated, the capillaries are more exposed, making it easier for microbes to pass directly into your bloodstream. In addition, some scientists think that pathogens linger in the air longer during winter because they lose excess water vapor and become lighter in the process. Studies have shown that the flu is much more common in winter because cold temperatures and low humidity make it easier for individuals to contract and spread the virus to others.
Using The Papworth Method
The Papworth method has been used since 1960 to help people with asthma. It is a type of breathing and relaxation technique. It makes use of the nose and diaphragm to develop breathing patterns that will suit the asthma patient. These breathing patterns can then be used while engaging in activities that can possibly flare up your asthma. Papworth method is a way of controlling over-breathing that is basically rapid and shallow breaths taken at the top of the chest.
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Indoor Air Quality And Asthma
Asthma is a problem that is not going anywhere anytime soon. According to the CDC, in 2009 1 in 12 people in the US were receiving treatment for asthma. Thats 25 million people who regularly suffer from impaired breathing. If you or a member of your family has asthma, you know how scary it can be. Environmental factors continue to be one of the main reasons people suffer from asthma. Is the indoor air quality in your home causing you or a member of your family respiratory distress? Lets look at some of the causes present in many homes.
Mold can be found in even the cleanest homes. It it often present wherever there is dampness. Bathrooms, basements, and kitchens are the usual suspects when it comes to pinpointing where mold is in your home. Leaky faucets are also a common source.
Did you know that dust mites are present on every continent except Antarctica? Theyre hard to get rid of, and are often a trigger of asthma and allergies. They are found just about anywhere in your home. They can be found in carpets, bedding pillows, stuffed animals, and anything plush. Plus, they thrive in environments between 68 and 77 degrees. Thats the temperature most of us keep our homes! Regular exposure to dust mites can cause an immune response known as allergic rhinitis and can severely impact quality of life year round.
Keep Your Home Well Aired
Keeping your home well aired can help to reduce exposure to some common indoor triggers. It means any fumes from fires, cookers, cleaning products, paints, aerosols and sprays are cleared away more quickly. And it helps prevent problems like damp and mould.
It also helps keep humidity down which is good news if youre worried about dust mites which like humid conditions.
Opening windows, using fans
Opening windows and doors is important for helping indoor fumes and dust escape. Some windows have small vents built into them known as trickle vents, which you can keep open. But it can also let in outdoor triggers like pollen and air pollution.
Weather and season can affect indoor and outdoor pollution. So take care on high pollution or pollen days if these are triggers for your asthma. And remember to open windows in winter, when there are typically higher levels of pollutants in your home because of using gas appliances and fires more.
Watch out for dusty fans or extractors or youll end up blowing dust all round the room.
Some people tell us having an air filter or air purifier helps them with their asthma symptoms. However more research is needed to show whether this works.
Air filters cant remove all allergens and even a few left behind can trigger asthma symptoms, says Dr Andy. And for something like second hand cigarette smoke, the best advice is always not to smoke in the first place, particularly around children.
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Inflamed Dermatitis Eczema And Asthma
Eczema and other forms of dermatitis are often exacerbated by changes in temperature and humidity. When sweat remains on your skin in high-humidity conditions, it can lead to heat rash an itchy, uncomfortable skin irritation that can occur when your sweat glands get clogged.
Extremely low humidity conditions can also worsen skin irritation. Oftentimes, eczema becomes inflamed in winter as suffers travel between overheated buildings and cold outdoor temperatures. The low humidity typically associated with cold winter months can worsen flare-ups as the skin is drained of moisture and essential oils.
For people with asthma, humidity levels can influence the frequency and severity of symptoms. Mold and dust mites thrive in high-moisture environments, so elevated indoor humidity levels can increase the amount of airborne irritants you’re exposed to on a daily basis. In addition, high humidity coupled with high temperatures can increase airway resistance when you breathe and trigger coughing and airway constriction in people with even mild asthma.
What Are Dust Mites
Dust mites are microscopic, insect-like pests that generate some of the most common indoor substancesor allergensthat can trigger allergic reactions and asthma in many people. Hundreds of thousands of dust mites can live in the bedding, mattresses, upholstered furniture, carpets or curtains in your home. They feed on the dead human skin cells found in dust.
Dust mites are not parasites they don’t bite, sting or burrow into our bodies. The harmful allergen they create comes from their fecal pellets and body fragments. Dust mites are nearly everywhere roughly four out of five homes in the United States have detectable levels of dust mite allergen in at least one bed.1
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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