Coping With Asthma During Winter
Asthma sufferers face asthma triggers from many different fronts. Common cleaning products or even perfume can cause asthma attacks. Allergies to pet dander, pollen, mold, and dust mites can also induce asthma attacks. Even the weather itself can pose dangers for those coping with asthma. Coping with asthma during the winter can be a challenge, but why? And what can you do to help keep your cold air and asthma symptoms in check during the winter? Learn how to deal with asthma during winter below.
Taking Care Of My Body
I was diagnosed with asthma when I was 15. I knew I had trouble breathing when I exercised, but I just thought I was out of shape and lazy. I also had seasonal allergies and a cough every October through May, but I didnt think it was that bad.
After an asthma attack and a trip to the emergency room, though, I found out my symptoms were all due to asthma. Following my diagnosis, life got easier and more complicated. To manage my lung function, I had to understand my triggers, which include cold weather, exercise, and environmental allergies.
As the seasons change from summer to winter, I take all the steps I can to ensure that my body is starting at as solid a place as possible. Some of these steps include:
- getting a flu shot every year
- making sure Im up to date on my pneumococcal vaccination
- keeping my neck and chest warm in cold weather, which means airing out scarves and sweaters that have been in storage
- making plenty of hot tea to take on the go
- washing my hands more often than necessary
- not sharing food or drinks with anyone
- staying hydrated
- staying inside during Asthma Peak Week
- using an air purifier
An air purifier is important year-round, but here in Southern California, moving into fall means having to contend with the dreaded Santa Ana winds. This time of year, having an air purifier is crucial for easy breathing.
Are There Natural Remedies For Asthma Attacks
The typical treatment for an asthma attack is a quick-acting inhaler with medication. Sit upright and take slow, steady breaths. Try to stay calm. Follow the asthma action plan that youâve set up with your doctor. If your breathing doesnât get better or if youâre so short of breath that you canât talk, get medical help right away.
Some breathing exercises can help with symptoms of an asthma attack.
- Pursed-lip breathing. This slows your breathing and helps hold your airways open longer so your lungs work better. With your mouth closed, breathe in slowly through your nose. Then breathe out through your mouth, with your lips pursed like youâre whistling, for twice as long.
- Belly breathing. This technique uses the same steps as pursed-lip breathing. But as you breathe in, focus on the movement of your belly. Picture it filling with air like a balloon. It may help to keep your hands on your belly so you can concentrate on the air going in and out.
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Can Cold Air Cause An Asthma Attack
If your asthma is severe and cold air is a trigger, then you are at risk for an asthma attack in cold weather. Consult your Asthma Action Plan to manage asthma in cold weather. You should always seek medical attention if symptoms worsen.
To keep cold air from causing an asthma flare:
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.
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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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 Are Natural Remedies For Asthma
With all the studies on alternative medicine and natural remedies, you may wonder if thereâs a natural cure for asthma. Unfortunately, there is no cure for asthma at this point. In fact, you should avoid any treatment or product — natural or otherwise — that claims to be a “cure” for asthma.
Some natural therapies may help you manage symptoms of asthma. For instance, a negative response to emotional stress can cause an asthma attack. Some natural relaxation remedies like deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, guided imagery, and biofeedback can help relieve stress.
Other findings suggest that diet plays a role in easing asthma symptoms. For example, omega-3 fatty acids found naturally in high-fat fish like salmon, mackerel, and cod may help your body fight inflammation. Whether this may help people who have asthma is still unproven.
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Why Cold Weather Asthma Occurs
When children with asthma breathe in cold, dry air, their sensitive airways can narrow, restricting airflow in and out of the lungs. This results in asthma attack symptoms, such as:
- Chest tightness
- Shortness of breath
Cold weather also means children spend more time indoors, where dry air caused by central heating and pollutants, such as dust, mold, and pet dander, can irritate the airways and trigger asthma attack symptoms.
Certain types of asthma can increase the risk for cold-weather asthma symptoms, including allergic asthma and exercise-induced asthma.
Exercise Options For Those With Asthma
Exercise is an important component of an effective asthma treatment regimen because it helps to increase lung capacity. As with all people, it can also help to improve mood and, in general, has a myriad of positive effects. However, exercise can sometimes be problematic for asthmatics. In fact, exercise-induced asthma is a leading cause of asthma symptoms. Working with your physician, you can find a variety of exercise options to fit your lifestyle and preference. While there may be some activities that can be limiting, for many with asthma, its more about preparation and knowing your own body.
Just because it is winter out, doesnt mean outdoor activity has to cease. While the cold air can present a challenge for those with asthma, the benefits of getting out, exercising, and enjoy some sun can far outweigh this. Still, exercising during winter months poses an extra challenge because of the effect that cold winter air has on the respiratory system.
Lastly, dont forget your meds! This can be taking a preventative prior to exercising or simply tucking a rescue inhaler in a pocket or small pack, if you begin to wheeze. When exercising its important to remember these things, particularly when exercising during the cooler months.
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What Is An Asthma Attack
Asthma is a chronic disease that affects the lungs. During an asthma attack, the airways become narrower than normal and can cause difficulty breathing.
The severity of an asthma attack can range from mild to very serious. Some asthma attacks may require prompt medical attention.
The preferred way of treating an asthma attack is to use a rescue inhaler, which contains medication that expands your airways.
But what if youre having an asthma attack and dont have your rescue inhaler available? There are several things that you can do while you wait for your symptoms to subside or for medical attention. Read on to learn more.
Consider Moving Your Workout Indoors
If you normally exercise outdoors, consider switching your routine. And if you cant resist that jog around the park, head out during the warmest part of the day.
Whats more, If you have exercise-induced asthma, your doctor may prescribe an inhaled bronchodilator that contains albuterol, that you will use about 30 minutes before exercising outside, Dr. Berger says. Those symptoms can be even worse when you work out in cold air.
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For Those With Bronchial Issues Here Are Tips To Protect Yourself During Cold Weather
Each year, asthma and the accompanying shortness of breath, chest tightness, fatigue, coughing, and wheezing sends an estimated 9.8 million people to the doctors office for relief and accounts for 1.8 million emergency department visits.
Winter can be especially challenging for people with asthma. Thats because seasonal triggers like indoor allergens and dry, cold air make it hard to keep asthma under control.
Here, Dr. Stephen Canfield, an allergist/immunologist at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center and an assistant professor of medicine at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons, shares his insights on the challenges winter poses and best tips for keeping asthma symptoms at bay.
What You Can Do To Manage Winter Asthma:
- Breathe through your nose. As weird as it may seem, breathing through your nose causes inhaled air to warm before reaching the lungs. This prevents the air from irritating the passages, thus reducing the chance of wheezing and coughing. When the weather is cold, cover the mouth with a scarf to help with the warming effect. This can be done while exercising too.
- Clean your environment frequently to reduce the occurrence of dust or mold build-up. This could help to lessen the number of irritants while being inside more during cold weather months.
- Use proper hand hygiene, namely use warm water and soap. Hand washing helps reduce the transmitting of germs and decreases the chance of acquiring a respiratory illness.
- Bring your exercise regimen indoors. Indoor air tends to be more humid than outdoor air in the winter months, reducing the opportunities to trigger asthma symptoms.
- Create an action plan with your physician. Your doctor can help you keep your asthma symptoms under control during the winter months.
At Desert Oasis Clinic, you will work with Dr. Thompson to create a treatment plan that works for you. Treatments such as Low Dose Allergen Therapy , Nutritional Assessment, and Biopuncture, are just some of the natural and holistic treatments Desert Oasis Clinic offers those dealing with asthma symptoms.
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Cold Air Can Trigger Asthma Attacks
Asthma sufferers are sensitive to their environment and the air they breathe. Triggers can cause your bronchial passageways to spasm and close off. When this happens, you can feel short of breath and start wheezing or coughing. Its a swelling response in your airways that creates an asthma attack.
Cold air can cause your airways to seize up, triggering an asthma attack. Winter air can also be moist, harboring mold spores and dust mites. When you breathe damp, cold air, you put your lungs at risk for inhaling particles that cause flare-ups and airway swelling.
Cold and flu viruses are prevalent in winter, and cold air makes them spread easily. If you have asthma and you get sick, the mucus your body develops can clog your airways. While you naturally have a thin layer of mucus in your airways, getting sick can create more mucus that fills your narrow breathing passages.
Using Your Inhalers To Prevent Winter Asthma
You should have two kinds of inhalers ready to fight against asthma symptoms: a preventer inhaler and a reliever inhaler.
Preventative inhalers such as a Clenil Modulite Inhaler help desensitise your airways to the harsh winter conditions, and should be used as prescribed. If you find yourself forgetting to use your preventative inhaler, make sure to set reminders on your phone its really important for keeping asthma in check.
Reliever inhalers such as a Ventolin Inhaler or Salbutamol Inhaler are essential to carry on your person in case of an emergency. You should never leave the home without them, particularly during cold weather. Make sure you have a reminder in place storing them by the door with your keys, for example.
If you find your inhalers are becoming ineffective, or just arent managing your symptoms like they used to, you should contact your doctor immediately and arrange an asthma review. Getting a review before the winter season is probably a good idea for your health, even if you feel like nothing has changed. If not, you could find yourself unable to manage your condition.
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How To Handle Seasonal Allergies In Winter With Care And Caution
Seasonal Allergies in winter: Post-Covid, many seasonal allergies are taking people back to bed. Never let the seasonal changes hamper your spirits.
Here are few tips to take care of seasonal allergies with care:
Your bodys defense behaves in a similar manner when we had a bad relationship, we are quite scared or defensive when starting a new relationship. Our body reacts to many harmless entities like pollen grains, dust mites, insect stings, mites, certain seasonal fruits and few chemicals that are present in our medicines.
When we contact these substances many health issues trigger like asthma, breathing issues, itching, and many other skin disorders.
How To Manage Cold Weather Asthma
Preventive care is important for controlling cold weather asthma symptoms. Follow these tips to help keep your childs asthma under control.
- Dress your child in several layers of warm clothing. It would help if you also wrapped a scarf loosely over your childs nose and mouth to warm the air before it enters the airways.
- Encourage your child to breathe in through the nose rather than the mouth. Similar to wearing a scarf around the nose and mouth, this helps warm the air before it reaches the lungs.
- Check the weather forecast and limit your childs outdoor activities when the weather is extremely cold. If your child normally exercises outdoors, encourage participation in indoor sports, such as swimming or gymnastics.
- Clean your home regularly to remove pollutants and improve indoor air quality. For best results, use a vacuum cleaner and air purifier with a high-efficiency particulate air filter.
- Follow your childs asthma treatment plan and make sure your child takes their medicines as prescribed. Remind your child always carry their quick-relief inhaler to treat asthma attack symptoms promptly when they occur.
- Be alert to increasing quick-relief inhaler use, which is a sign your childs asthma isnt under control. If you have any questions or concerns about your childs asthma symptoms, ask a physician to review your childs asthma treatment plan.
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Tips For When You Dont Have An Inhaler
Mild to moderate asthma attacks can occur at inopportune times. You may be able to manage your asthma more effectively with these tips. If these dont work CALL AN AMBULANCE.