Why Is Cold Weather Hard On People With Asthma
- Wild weather: Winter often brings rain, wind and fluctuations in air pressure, even for those in mild climates. Rainy and windy weather can stir up mold spores and barometric pressure changes can trigger sinusitis. These can also cause asthma flare-ups.
- Illnesses: Colds, flu and viruses are common in winter and can lead to more inflammation of your airways. Such illnesses thicken the mucus in bronchial tubes and make it harder to breathe. This can worsen symptoms or cause asthma flare-ups.
- Time spent indoors: When the weather is cold, you may stay inside longer with the windows closed and the heat on. And you may be exposed to more indoor allergens, irritants and respiratory viruses. For example, you could be at risk for an asthma flare if your symptoms are triggered by dust, mold or pet dander, or cigarette smoke if theres a smoker in the house.
What Happens To The Lungs During An Asthma Attack
During an asthma attack, the airways become very inflamed and sensitive in response to a certain irritant or asthma trigger. When this happens, the muscles in the airways tighten up and restrict air flow to the lungs. In addition to swelling and inflammation, the cells in the airways often produce much more mucus than they usually do, which can cause the airways to become even more blocked. Limited oxygen can cause the individual to become weak, light-headed, and very tired.
In severe cases, if the oxygen flow through the airways is not somehow improved, the individual could die.
My Cat Started Having Coughing Spells I Thought She Was Trying To Cough Up A Hairball My Veterinarian Has Diagnosed Feline Asthma And Bronchitis What Is This Condition
Feline asthma affects a fair number of cats and is often associated with bronchitis. Asthma is technically an acute or chronic inflammation of the airways associated with several physiologic effects including:
- increased responsiveness to various noxious stimuli
- narrowing/constriction of the airways
- reversibility of airway constriction
- the presence of inflammatory cells within the airways
The term feline bronchitis describes the coughing and/or wheezing that comes from inflammation in the lower airway. Asthma and bronchitis are typically considered as two parts of the same syndrome. This syndrome may also be referred to as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease .
If the cats airways are sensitive to certain stimuli, exposure to those agents can cause an inflammatory response and the cat will experience bronchial spasms, increased mucus production, and possible accumulation of mucus in the airways. Inability to clear the bronchi of mucus can lead to airway obstruction and may leave the cat susceptible to secondary respiratory infections. Chronic airway obstruction may trap air in the tiny lung passages called alveoli, leading to over-inflation and lung damage.
Coughing is a significant finding since there are relatively few causes of coughing in cats.
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Ways To Keep Asthma In Check During A Cold
For people with asthma, getting a cold or the flu can increase the risk of having an asthma attack. Try these simple asthma self-care steps to protect yourself when you get a cold.
Over the course of the year, Americans will have over one billion colds. For many people, getting sick is just a nuisance, but if you have asthma, you may have a harder time getting through a cold or the flu. A University of Michigan study finds that the reason for this may have more to do with your immune system your body’s defense system against foreign invaders than the actual effects of cold and flu viruses.
“People with asthma have a more ‘exuberant’ immune response to cold and flu viruses. That not only makes their cold and flu symptoms worse, it also may trigger an asthma attack,” says David A. Neumeyer, MD, a pulmonary specialist at the Lahey Clinic in Burlington, Mass.
Here’s how to better protect yourself from getting a cold or the flu, and how to keep your asthma in check if you do get sick.
How Can I Reduce My Risk Of An Asthma Attack If I Have A Cold Or The Flu
1. If youve got a preventer inhaler, take it every day, as prescribed. This helps to control inflammation in your lungs, which reduces the risk of having an asthma attack. Learn how to improve your inhaler technique through our short videos.
2. Carry your reliever inhaler with you – its usually blue. See your GP, pharmacist or asthma nurse if you:
- need to take your reliever inhaler three or more times a week
- have asthma symptoms three or more times a week
- wake up one night a week because of your asthma symptoms.
3. Keep your medicines close, so you can reach them if you’re ill in bed – you still need to take your preventer inhaler as prescribed.
4. Don’t ignore your symptoms, especially if you feel breathless or wheezy – you might think it’s ‘just a cold’, but remember it could trigger a potentially life-threatening asthma attack.
5. Rest at home. Take paracetamol for aches and pains and drink lots of water to avoid getting dehydrated. Flu especially can really wipe you out, so dont try to do too much too soon.
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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 youre 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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Medical History And Physical Exam
Your doctor will ask about your risk factors for asthma and your symptoms. They may ask also about any known allergies. This includes how often symptoms occur, what seems to trigger your symptoms, when or where symptoms occur, and if your symptoms wake you up at night.
During the physical exam, your doctor may:
- Listen to your breathing and look for symptoms of asthma
- Look for allergic skin conditions, such as eczema
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Kids Asthma And Cold Weather
Asthma can be tough for kids to handle even on a good day, but managing the chronic condition during the winter months can pose a particular challenge. Cold air, for one, can result in shortness of breath caused by a tightening of the airways, a common asthma symptom. Other symptoms include coughing, wheezing and chest tightness, which can be brought on by:
- physical activity
- irritants such as cigarette smoke, fragrances and air fresheners
- allergens like dust mites, cockroaches, mice and animal dander or pollen.
During childhood, more boys than girls tend to develop asthma, but that reverses as they grow older. Come the teen years, symptoms may lessen, but they typically do return.
Asthma patients are treated with various medications such as bronchodilators and maintenance medications . Theres currently no cure.
How can a parent help his or her child manage asthma, especially during the colder months?
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
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Type Of Exercise How Long It Lasts How Hard You’re Working
You may find some kinds exercise are harder on your breathing than others. If your asthma is well controlled, you should be able to do every kind of exercise and sport. The one exception is Scuba diving, which is not recommended for people with asthma because it can be dangerous for them.If you find a certain exercise harder to do, you can:Make sure you to a proper warm-up and cool-down.Take it at a slower pace- if other run eight laps during a practice, you can try running five laps.
What Happens During Asthma Attacks
Asthma attacks may start as minor but if not managed effectively, can turn dangerous. During an asthma attack, the airways become swollen and constricted more than usual. Breathing properly becomes quite tough. Some signs of an asthma attack are:
- Wheezing while breathing in and out
- Extremely rapid breathing
Read More on Asthma Causes & Triggers
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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.
The Benefits Of Mullein
Mullein is considered a weed, yet like many weeds it has potent medicinal qualities. Other such-labelled plants like dandelion, plantain, and cannabis have enormous positive potential.
Used for ages for its medicinal properties, mullein grows in sunny, unkempt places and has fuzzy leaves and yellow flowers. Its roots, leaves, and flowers can be taken as a tea to clean and strengthen the lungs, reducing inflammation in the respiratory tract.
Infused in olive oil and applied topically, its also effective in treating ear aches and infections due to its anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and antibacterial properties .
Mullein has been shown to be effective against streptococci , respiratory infections, and trichomoniasis . The weed contains saponins that are efficient expectorants. Its iridoid, flavonoid, vitamin and mineral content account for mulleins efficacy and versatility .
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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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What Are Some Resources To Help Me Track The Weather
Accuweather/AAFA personalized respiratory forecast Visit Accuweather.com for a personalized asthma forecast for your area. Enter your location. Then from the Personalized Forecasts drop-down menu, choose Respiratory. The Accuweather/AAFA forecast will show asthma alerts along with your forecast. The page also includes tips from AAFA on managing weather-related asthma issues.
AirNow The Environmental Protection Agencys site on air quality gives your areas Air Quality Index . Based on the AQI, you can tell if air quality could affect your asthma. An AQI of 101 or above is dangerous for those with asthma. You can also sign up to get daily email alerts.
National Allergy Bureau – Sign up to receive email alerts or download the app from the AAAAI to alert you of your area’s pollen counts.
Pollen.com Enter your zip code to get local pollen forecasts and pollen history.
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Asthma Is Really Treatable
As I said above, what we most want is for children with asthma to lead healthy, normal lives. And heres the thing: we can make that happen. Not only can we work to avoid and manage triggers, and not only can we use medications to relieve the symptoms there are medications we can use that can prevent them. A steroid inhaler or other preventative medication, used every day or during periods when asthma is worse or might get worse, can make all the difference. While some parents get nervous about using steroids, the dose is very low and while some families find daily medications challenging, there are all sorts of strategies to make it work. Its worth it. For some children, preventative medication can be the difference between wheezing all the time and not wheezing at all.
Which, you have to admit, is pretty great. So if your child has asthma, or you think they might have asthma, talk to your doctor and get your child started on the healthy, happy life they deserve.
Why Does Your Body Overproduce Mucus
Mucus has an important role in the body. It lines many of your tissues. Its slippery consistency helps protect and moisturize, and it also traps potential irritants.
Your body can go into overdrive creating mucus and phlegm when you:
Have a cold Have allergies Are exposed to smoke or pollution
Environmental allergies can cause excess mucus or phlegm, as can food allergies, but the latter is harder to diagnose based on this symptom alone, Dr. Bryson says.
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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.
I Still Don’t Know If I’m Sick
So, the verdict is still out. If Im just normal asthma flaring, Id hope it would lift in another day or two at most. If its a cold, I could have another 5 to 7 to 10 days of this nonsenseand my chest muscles are already feeling it, so good luck to me if thats the case!
Do you have clues for telling if youre having an asthma flare or have a cold? What works for you managing a cold with your asthma?
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The Difference In Asthma And Common Cold Symptoms
Its best to start with what symptoms are not caused by asthma. Asthma doesnt cause fever, chills, achy muscles, or sore throat, so any one of these is cause for concern as they indicate something else is going on and are a good sign you should see a doctor. If you or your child experience these symptoms dont write them off as asthma. They could be the sign of a serious respiratory infection.
On the other hand, typical asthma symptoms are frequent or chronic coughing, shortness of breath, wheezing, and a tight feeling in your chest. If youre experiencing any of these, or you have a loved one who is, a doctor visit may be in order to rule out chronic asthma. These symptoms may feel like the start of a cold, or even the flu, but its important that asthma sufferers understand and recognize the difference in order to get proper treatment. Its also important to be able to differentiate between something like seasonal allergies and the common cold, as allergens can greatly increase your risk of an asthma attack.