Why Does Asthma Get Worse In The Winter
“Asthma is an inflammatory condition made worse by triggers that make your airways oversensitive,” explains Dr Jeff Foster, medical director at H3 Health. “Walking from a hot room to the cold air outside can make asthma worse – it triggers your smaller airways to tighten as they try not to let that nasty cold air deep into the lungs. However, the asthmatic lung inappropriately tightens, which can trigger an attack.”
Cold air can also prompt the airways to produce histamine – the same hormone released during allergic reactions – which can trigger a bout of wheezing. In addition, the body is likely to ramp up its production of mucus, in an attempt to create a warm environment and filter the air entering the lungs.
“An increase in mucus can make asthma feel worse,” says Abbas Kanani, pharmacist at Chemist Click. “Colds, flu, and chest infections are also more prevalent during the colder months. Symptoms include a stuffy nose, cough, inflamed airways, and a general increase in mucus production, all of which can exacerbate symptoms of asthma.”
Staying in all the time may not help either. Just being in a centrally heated house can be bad for asthma, as the heating dries out the natural moisture in the air, making it harder to breathe. Conversely, damp and mouldy environments produce spores, which can trigger asthma symptoms.
How to handle asthma during the winter months
Know When To Get Help
Symptoms that place you in the “red zone” of your asthma action plan are serious. If you experience any of these, follow the instructions in your plan and get emergency care right away:
- Wheezing when you inhale and exhale
- Nonstop coughing
Immediately call 911 or your local emergency number if:
- You can’t talk in full sentences.
- Your lips or fingernails turn blue .
- You begin breathing rapidly .
- You aren’t able to breathe in or out fully.
- You feel confused or agitated.
- Your rescue inhaler doesn’t relieve your symptoms.
Side Effects Of Steroid Tablets
Oral steroids carry a risk if they are taken for more than three months or if they are taken frequently . Side effects can include:
- easy bruising
- muscle weakness
With the exception of increased appetite, which is very commonly experienced by people taking oral steroids, most of these unwanted effects are uncommon.
However, it is a good idea to keep an eye out for them regularly, especially side effects that are not immediately obvious, such as high blood pressure, thinning of the bones, diabetes and glaucoma.
You will need regular appointments to check for these.
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Asthma Signs & Symptoms
People with asthma experience symptoms due to inflammation in the airways. They might only occur when you encounter an asthma trigger. Common symptoms that can lead to a diagnosis of asthma include:
- Persistent or recurring coughing: which often occurs at night or early in the morning, although it can happen at any time. Coughing is a major feature of asthma, especially in children and can sometimes be the only sign of asthma.
- Wheezing: is difficulty breathing accompanied by a whistling sound coming from your airways
- Shortness of breath: gives you the feeling that you cant get enough air into your lungs, and may even find it difficult to eat, sleep or speak
- Chest tightness: an unpleasant sensation of heaviness or pressure in the chest that can make it hard to breathe
- Increased mucus production: is characterized by high levels of thick fluid or phlegm accumulating in your airways
- Difficulty breathing while exercising: having trouble breathing while performing physical activities can be a sign of asthma
- Losing Sleep: Being unable to sleep through the night because of breathing troubles
Drugs And Food Additives
Beta blockers, which often are prescribed for high blood pressure, glaucoma, migraine headaches and angina, can cause bronchospasm, an airway tightening. Patients with asthma should consult their allergist about the use of these medications.
Food additives rarely trigger asthma. The most common food trigger for asthma is sulfite, a preservative used in such products as frozen potatoes and some beers and wines.
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Home Remedies To Get Recovery From Asthma
Asthma causes due to inflammation in the airways. It is a chronic disorder of the lungs. The airways become narrow and filled with mucus which results in a short breath. It should be treated in time. During an asthma attack, the lungs do not get enough oxygen so the person feels short breath often they have cough, wheeze, and heaviness feel in their chest.
As this is a chronic disease, it has no permanent cure. However, people manage with some medication and home remedies can be very helpful for a safer treatment to keep under control. The remedies work best when you improve your quality of life. Many people suffer from asthma, so this is very important to understand the reasons that trigger asthma.
Commonly it includes dust mites, pets, smoke cold weather, dry air, stressful situation, intense emotions, etc. You will feel an increased heartache in these conditions. There are two types of asthma- allergic and non-allergic asthma. But in both cases, it can be managed whether it may mild, moderate, or severe. You must have to take doctors advice and maintain home remedies to avoid common asthma triggers and minimize problems.
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 .
Some natural therapies may help you manage symptoms of asthma. For instance, a negative response to emotional can cause an asthma attack. Some natural relaxation remedies like deep , progressive muscle relaxation, guided imagery, and can help relieve stress.
Other findings suggest that plays a role in easing asthma symptoms. For example, omega-3 fatty acids found naturally in high-fat like , mackerel, and cod may help your body fight . Whether this may help people who have is still unproven.
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When To Seek Help About Your Asthma Symptoms
Asthma attacks can happen any time and in any place. If you are experiencing asthma symptoms multiple times per week, then see your health care provider to discuss adjustments to your asthma care plan.
For people that do not have health insurance, Carrillo recommends looking for medication assistance programs in your area. It is important for people with asthma to have access to the proper medication, said Carrillo. In south Texas, we have the Medication Assistance Program through Healthy South Texas. These types of programs do exist, and they are ready to help.
Mary Leigh Meyer
Personal Asthma Action Plan
As part of your initial assessment, you should be encouraged to draw up a personal asthma action plan with your GP or asthma nurse.
If you’ve been admitted to hospital because of an asthma attack, you should be offered an action plan before you go home.
The action plan should include information about your asthma medicines, and will help you recognise when your symptoms are getting worse and what steps to take. You should also be given information about what to do if you have an asthma attack.
Your personal asthma action plan should be reviewed with your GP or asthma nurse at least once a year, or more frequently if your symptoms are severe.
As part of your asthma plan, you may be given a peak flow meter. This will give you another way of monitoring your asthma, rather than relying only on symptoms, so you can recognise deterioration earlier and take appropriate steps.
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Signs Of An Asthma Emergency
An asthma emergency occurs when you have followed your asthma action plan and asthma symptoms have not improved within 10-15 minutes. Signs that you are having an asthma emergency include:
- Difficulty talking and/or walking
- Skin sucking in by the ribs or neck
- Fingernails or lips turning pale, blue or gray
Any one of these symptoms means your asthma is serious and can be life-threatening. Use your reliever medicine right away, tell someone you are experiencing an asthma emergency, and go to the emergency room or call 911.
How To Control An Asthma Attack When Caught Without An Inhaler
Breathing is so automatic for most people that we hardly ever give it a second thought. If you have asthma, or if your child has asthma, though, you never take breathing for granted.
When you suffer from , your airways narrow and swell and can even produce extra mucus, all of which make breathing difficult. Asthma can also cause lots of wheezing, coughing, and shortness of breath.
This is especially true if you experience a full-blown asthma attack. Most people with asthma try to keep a rescue inhaler with them so they can have quick access to medicine such as albuterol, which can control their symptoms.
But what if you have an asthma attack while you dont have your inhaler with you? This can be a dangerous situation, but at Sulkowski Family Medicine, weve learned a few tips over the years that can help you out. Heres what we recommend:
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Risk Factors For Asthma
It isnt clear why some people get asthma in the first place while others do not. However, new evidence on what causes the disease and how it can be prevented is emerging.
Researchers have learned that many factors in a persons environment, in combination with their genes can cause asthma. For example, exposure to tobacco smoke, traffic pollution, and some substances that people are exposed to at work, such as formaldehyde, epoxy, isocyanates, diesel exhaust and other chemicals that can cause the disease.
For people with asthma, contact with these same materials can make their disease worse. The good news is that getting rid of or reducing exposures to these risk factors is possible, and doing so can help to prevent asthma from ever developing. For more information about primary prevention of asthma, please see Goal 5 of the Strategic Plan for Asthma in Massachusetts 2015-2020.
Tips To Help Prevent Exercise
To prevent exercise-induced asthma, suggestions include:
- Make sure that your asthma is being well managed, as this will make exercise-induced asthma less likely to occur.
- Always carry your reliever medication and spacer with you.
- If written on your Asthma Action Plan, take your reliever medication up to 15 minutes before warming up.
- Warm up before exercise as usual.
- During exercise, watch for asthma symptoms and stop and take your reliever medication if symptoms appear. Only return to exercise if your asthma symptoms have been relieved. If asthma symptoms appear for a second time during exercise, take your reliever medication again until symptoms have been relieved. It is not recommended that you return to the activity.
- After exercise, cool down as usual. Asthma symptoms can occur up to half an hour after exercise. Make sure you take your reliever medication if you have symptoms after exercise.
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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.
How To Reduce Asthma Triggers
Before you despair , be aware there are lots of practical ways of avoiding triggers and managing symptoms. The first step is to protect your airways from the cold, for instance by wrapping a lightweight scarf around your mouth.
It may also be wise to exercise indoors on very cold days. Remember, staying fit is really important for your overall lung function, so don’t let the perishing weather be a reason not to break a sweat.
“When it is cold outside, try to breathe through your nose. Cold air is warmed as it makes its way from the nose through the throat, and then into the airways,” adds Kanani.
If you have mould at home, you should try to deal with the cause . Opening doors and windows and using extractor fans can make a big difference, as can closing doors where condensation is likely.
“Dehumidifiers can also help, but make sure you use them at the right time when there is a high chance of condensation,” warns Kanani. “Using a dehumidifier too often can dry the air, making asthma symptoms worse. If you spend time in your garden, clear leaves on a regular basis, as they are a hotspot for mould spores.”
Regarding coughs and colds, you may not be able to avoid every bug that’s going round this winter. But you can take precautions, such as washing your hands regularly and wearing a mask in crowded settings. It goes without saying you should also get the flu vaccine and COVID-19 booster – you are eligible for both if you have asthma.
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What Is The Prognosis For Asthma
The prognosis for asthma is generally favorable. Children experience complete remission more often than adults. Although adults with asthma experience a greater rate of loss in their lung function as compared to age-controlled counterparts, this decline is usually not as severe as seen in other conditions, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or emphysema. Asthma in the absence of other comorbidities does not appear to shorten life expectancy. Risk factors for poor prognosis from asthma include
- a history of hospitalizations, especially ICU admissions or intubation,
- frequent reliance on systemic steroids,
- significant medical comorbidities.
The airway narrowing in asthma may become fixed over time and can resemble COPD or emphysema. The other main complication of asthma is due to side effects from oral steroid use, which can include bone loss , weight gain, and glucose intolerance.
Tips For Kids With Exercise
For the most part, kids with exercise-induced asthma can do anything their peers can do. But be sure to follow the suggestions given by your childs doctor.
Here are some tips for kids and teens:
- If symptoms start, dont exercise until they stop.
- Warm up before exercise to prevent chest tightening.
- Take quick-relief medicine as close to the start of exercise as possible.
- Breathe through the nose during exercise.
- Take brief rests during exercise and use quick-relief medicine, as prescribed, if symptoms start.
- Cool down after exercise to help slow the change of air temperature in the lungs.
Its also best not to exercise outside during very cold weather. If your child plays outside when its cold, wearing a ski mask or a scarf over the mouth and nose should help.
If air pollution or pollen are triggers, your child may want to exercise indoors when air quality is poor or pollen counts are high. And kids shouldnt exercise when they have a or other upper respiratory infection.
Kids should always have access to their quick-relief medicine. Keep extras on hand and be sure to check all supplies so your child isnt carrying an empty inhaler.
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What To Do When Asthma Stops You Sleeping
- If you have asthma symptoms, sit up and take your reliever inhaler as prescribed.
- Always make sure your inhaler is beside your bed before you go to sleep, so you dont have to search for it in the middle of the night.
- Give yourself a bit of time to check your reliever medicine has dealt with your symptoms before you go back to sleep, says Dr Andy Whittamore. This is better than falling asleep straight away only to wake up soon after with asthma symptoms because your reliever didnt help enough.
- Some people find propping themselves up with extra pillows helps as it keeps the airways open.
When Do Breathing Exercises Work
Just like aerobic exercises help improve the health of the heart, breathing exercises can make the lungs function more efficiently.
Pulmonologists lung specialists recommend breathing exercises for people with COPD and asthma because they help keep the lungs strong. A person should do these exercises when they feel that their lungs are healthy, to build strength, and continue the techniques if they feel short of breath.
Deep breathing exercises may help increase lung capacity. For instance, the British Lung Foundation say that deep breathing can help clear mucus from the lungs after pneumonia, allowing more air to circulate.
To perform this exercise: Breathe deeply 510 times, then cough strongly a couple of times, and repeat.
Other exercises, such as pursed lip breathing, can help manage breathlessness during respiratory illness. According to the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, this may help with breathlessness caused by COVID-19.
However, researchers have not yet looked into the effects of breathing exercises on lung capacity in people with COVID-19. There is currently no evidence that they are a safe or effective way to manage symptoms of this new condition.
Overall, it is a good idea to speak to a doctor before trying any new breathing exercise.
While breathing exercises may provide benefits to people with mild respiratory symptoms, people with severe symptoms may require oxygen therapy or the use of a mechanical ventilator.
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