Identify And Avoid Your Triggers
Its important to identify possible asthma triggers by making a note of where you are and what youre doing when your symptoms get worse.
Some triggers can be hard to avoid, but it may be possible to avoid some, such as dust mites, pet fur and some medicines.
Youll have regular contact with your doctor or asthma nurse to monitor your condition.
These appointments may involve:
- talking about your symptoms for example, if theyre affecting your normal activities or are getting worse
- a discussion about your medicines including if you think you might be experiencing any side effects and if you need to be reminded how to use your inhaler
- breathing tests
Its also a good chance to ask any questions you have or raise any other issues you want to discuss.
You may be asked to help monitor your condition between appointments. For example, you may be advised to;check your peak flow if you think your symptoms may be getting worse.
Your personal action plan should say what to do if your symptoms get gradually or suddenly worse. Contact your doctor or asthma nurse if youre not sure what to do.
Is Cold Weather Bad For Asthma
Last reviewed:;Medically reviewed
Cold weather can trigger asthma symptoms. In fact, its thought that around 75% of people with asthma in the UK say that cold air can bring on an attack, while 90% believe cold or flu viruses make symptoms of asthma worse.
So why is this, and what can you do to reduce your risk of a flare-up or asthma attack when the weather turns colder?
What Precautions Should People With Asthma Take
Make sure your asthma is under control before winter arrives. See your doctor to develop an asthma action plan and then take the medicines your doctor prescribes. You may take medicine every day or just when you need it .
Long-term controller medicines are drugs you take every day to manage your asthma symptoms. They include:
- inhaled corticosteroids, such as fluticasone
- long-acting beta-agonists, such as salmeterol
- leukotriene modifiers, such as montelukast
Note: Long-acting beta-agonists are always used alongside inhaled corticosteroids.
Quick-relief medicines are drugs that you only take when you need them, such as before exercising in the cold. Short-acting bronchodilators and anticholinergics are examples of these drugs.
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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.
Cold Weather Asthma Prevention Tips For Children
Children are more susceptible to asthma attacks as they;may not be able to identify triggers or take the necessary precautions to prevent an attack. Apart from the steps mentioned above, here are a few tips you can use during winter to help children with asthma:
- Talk to your child about cold weather being an asthma trigger and explain the importance of keeping warm in winters.
- Show your child how to avoid triggers and how to put the right plan into action in the event of an attack.
- Teach your child to maintain good hygiene by demonstrating the proper way to wash hands to avoid respiratory infections.
- Discuss your childs condition with the school nurse and keep him/her updated about the medications your child is on.
- Make sure your child is always carrying reliever medication when stepping out.
Winters can be a difficult time for both adults and children who have asthma. While;asthma is a long-term disease that cannot be cured yet, taking steps to avoid potential triggers and planning your activities will help prevent any sudden attacks.;Also make sure to include foods like ginger, turmeric, and omega 3 fatty acids in your diet to benefit from their anti-inflammatory properties.
|Schachter, E. N., Elliot Lach, and M. Lee. The protective effect of a cold weather mask on exercised-induced asthma.Annals of allergy 46, no. 1 : 12-16.|
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How Can I Look After My Asthma This Winter
Take your preventer inhaler as prescribed
Your preventer inhaler stops inflammation building up in your airways. You need to take it every day, all year round, even if you feel well. Taking your preventer inhaler as prescribed means your airways will be less sensitive and less likely to react to triggers. This includes any of your winter triggers, like cold air.
Keep your reliever inhaler with you at all times
Your reliever inhaler quickly deals with asthma symptoms if you get them. Always carry it with you, in case you come across any of your asthma/winter triggers
See your GP if:
you have symptoms, or need to use your reliever inhaler, three or more times a week
Use your asthma action plan
One of the best ways to look after your asthma is to use an asthma action plan. This helps you stay on top of your asthma treatments and triggers and tells you what to do if your symptoms get worse. Use it all year round, so that youre already feeling in control when winter comes.
If youre not using one yet, find out how to get an asthma action plan and how you can get the most out of it.
Have regular asthma reviews
Most people with asthma go for an asthma review at least once a year. If you have difficult or severe asthma, you may need to go more often. A regular asthma review with your GP means you can feel confident your asthma action plan is up to date, and that youre on the right treatment to help you stay well all year round.
Finally: Learn How To Control Asthma By Taking Your Doctors Advice
Theres no substitute for professional medical help. Your asthma and its triggers are specific to you, so make sure to visit your doctor or asthma nurse regularly to review any medications you are on and to keep your asthma plan up-to-date. Carry your inhaler with you at all times.
For more useful tips, read our article: Is Your Indoor Air Worsening Your Asthma?;
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Is Asthma Triggered By Cold Air
When someone with asthma breathes in cold, dry air, it can make the muscles inside start to spasm while also trying to keep airways open. This further irritates the lining of the airways and causes coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath.
Cold air can trigger asthma symptoms and flare-ups, especially when theres dryness in cold air. For many people with asthma, its the dryness in cold air that can lead to breathing problems. Cold air accompanied by windy conditions can also trigger symptoms. In general, the more severe your asthma is, the more likely cold air is to affect you.
Why Does Cold Air Trigger Asthma
Cold air holds less water than warm air. ;So, cold air tends to be drier than warm air. 2 ;So, not only can it cool airways, but it can also dry them. Its this combination of cooling and drying of airways that is suspected of triggering asthma symptoms.
Our normal body temperature is ;98.7°F. Airway cells, like all cells, contain a certain amount of fluid. This is needed so they can do their work. 3 Cells lining airway are also covered by a layer of fluid.4 So, this is the normal state of things inside your airways. Your body is constantly making efforts to maintain this state of normalcy.
Inside your nose are turbinates. These are bony-like protrusions on either side of your nasal passages. These act as natural heaters and humidifiers. They warm and humidify air you inhale to body temperature. So, your nose has a significant job in maintaining normalcy inside your lungs. 5
Its easy for your nose to keep up when inhaled air is warm. But, when the air gets cold, they have a hard time keeping up. Fluid lining airways is absorbed to humidify cold air. Likewise, cells lining airways also have to get involved. They have to give up some of their moisture to humidify this air. They also have to give up some of their heat. So, inhaling cold air both cools and dries airways. 4
This can happen if the air gets cold enough. It can happen in freezing temperatures. Although this effect is exacerbated when youre exercising in colder temperatures.
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How Can You Avoid Asthma Attacks In The Cold
To prevent asthma attacks, try to stay indoors when the temperature dips very low, especially if its below 10°F .
If you do have to go outside, cover your nose and mouth with a scarf to warm the air before you breathe it in.
Here are a few other tips:
- Drink extra fluids in the winter. This can keep the mucus in your lungs thinner and therefore easier for your body to remove.
- Try to avoid anyone who appears to be sick.
- Get your flu vaccine early in the fall.
- Vacuum and dust your home often to remove indoor allergens.
- Wash your sheets and blankets every week in hot water to get rid of dust mites.
Here are some ways to prevent asthma attacks when you exercise outdoors in cold weather:
- Use your inhaler 15 to 30 minutes before you exercise. This opens up your airways so you can breathe easier.
- Carry an inhaler with you in case you have an asthma attack.
- Warm up for at least 10 to 15 minutes before you work out.
- Wear a mask or scarf over your face to warm the air you breathe in.
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.
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Your Asthma Weather Report
Common weather triggers that can aggravate asthma symptoms include:
- Cold air. Frigid temperatures can be an asthma trigger. Cold air seems to predispose people with asthma to have more symptoms, says Fineman. Cold air can cause constriction of airways, says Todd Rambasek, MD, an adult and pediatric allergist at ENT and Allergy Health Services in Cleveland, Ohio. For people with asthma, this can be a dangerous problem.
- Wind and rain. Rainfall can increase and stir up mold spores, and wind can blow around pollen and mold.
- Heat. In the summer months, increased ozone from smog, exhaust fumes, and pollutants tend to be higher and can trigger asthma symptoms.
- Lightning. Thunderstorms, which can generate ozone, are now thought of as an asthma trigger.
- Air pressure fluctuations. Barometric pressure triggers sinus episodes, and sinusitis is a common trigger for asthma symptoms, says Dr. Rambasek.
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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Common Questions About Cold Weather Asthma
Here are a few of the most common questions people have about cold weather asthma and winter asthma triggers.
1. Can asthma be triggered by cold weather?
Temperature and humidity seem to exacerbate asthma symptoms. Cold, dry air is a common asthma trigger and can cause issues for those whoplay outdoor winter sports. Take precautions and talk to your physician about using an inhaler or taking other medicines to manage cold weather asthma.
2. What helps asthma in cold weather?
There are several things you can do to minimize the impact of winter asthma triggers. Get the flu shot and avoid contact with anyone showing signs of a respiratory virus. Dont sit by awood-burning fireplace. Replace your HVAC filters frequently. Exercise indoors and avoid prolonged activity outside in colder weather. Finally, consider using aportable spirometer to monitor lung health.
3. How cold is too cold for asthma?
According to medical experts, people with cold-weather asthma should avoid going outdoors when the temperature falls below; 10°F.
4. Is asthma worse in winter?
Asthma is a chronic condition that does not go away. However, asthma triggers differ from person to person. For those with cold-weather asthma, cold dry air can irritate their airways and cause bronchial spasms. There is also an increased risk of contracting a respiratory virus during the winter. A cold orflu can make asthma more difficult to manage.
5. Is cold or hot air better for asthma?
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Best Climate For Asthma
Asthma sufferers often wonder if there is a best climate to better live with their asthma. Depending on whom you talk to, the answer will vary. But there are things to keep in mind when looking for a new home, if you’re already planning to move, since most doctors will recommend hat moving for your asthma is generally a bad idea.
If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.
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What Causes Cold Weather Asthma
An estimated 300 million people worldwide suffer from asthma, according to the World Health Organization. Different people may have different triggers that can cause asthma flare-ups. The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology lists cold weather as one of the more common causes that can lead to;asthma.1 Some of the causes of winter asthma include:
Whats Happening In Your Childs Body
When your childs airways come into contact with cold air, their body releases a chemical called Histamine. This is the same chemical released during anallergic reaction.
During an allergic reaction, it can cause swelling, itchiness, and trouble breathing. Histamine can cause the lungs to swell making the airways tighter. When their airways are tight it makes it harder to take a good breath, which can result in an asthma attack.
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Why Humidity And Cold Air Trigger Asthma
Every asthmatic should be aware that both humidity and cold air are two very common asthma triggers. So why is this? What can you do about it?
Its been common wisdom for years that a cool mist humidifier helps with croup, inflammation and narrowing of a childs airways. Put a croupy kid in the hot and steamy bathroom and the swelling gets better.
Another method that often works for croup is taking the child outside in the cold winter air. This is why many times when a parent decides to take the child to the hospital, in the dead of winter, the child is fine by the time they arrive in the emergency room.
This is true for croup, so it was also theorized in past decades that it must also be true for asthma attacks. Most doctors are aware of this fallacy. In fact, doctors recognize that both cold air and humidity can actually trigger an asthma attack.
When I was little boy way back in the 1970s, my pediatrician recommended my parents have me sit in the hot steamy bathroom when I was having trouble breathing. It was also recommended I have a humidifier in my room.
Both of these made my asthma worse, not better. Yet I was a kid, so how was I to tell my parents that? My doctor and parents thought they were doing something good, yet their wisdom was flawed .
I wrote a post before how low and high humidity can trigger asthma. Studies show that a humidity of 50 percent or greater may lead to a greater incidence of asthma trouble.
Two common theories for this are: