Why Does Cold Weather Make Asthma Worse
There are a few reasons why cold weather may contribute to the worsening of asthma symptoms. When individuals with asthma exercise in cold weather, they are not able to warm their breath effectively before it reaches their lungs. Because the body automatically keeps the interior organs at a warm temperature, it can shock the lungs to rapidly breathe very cold winter air. In response to the cold air, the lungs become inflamed, which can lead to an asthma attack.
In addition to the shock that cold air causes to the lungs, it can also cause airway dryness. Cold winter air is often very dry, which can cause irritation to even healthy lungs. Because asthmatics already have weaker lungs, the dry air affects them even more severely and can result in severe asthma attacks or prolonged, uncomfortable breathing.
Cold weather also brings the flu and sniffles along with it, which can exacerbate asthma symptoms and make the winter months absolutely miserable for those who suffer from asthma. If asthmatic individuals properly prepare for the cold weather, they can more effectively manage their asthma symptoms and improve their quality of life during the cold winter months.
Bring Your Inhaler With You
This goes without saying, but many folks forget theirs, especially when it starts to get nicer in early spring.
Carrying your rescue inhaler is recommended, and for those that are on maintenance inhalers, taking them as prescribed and practicing proper inhaler technique is necessary to get the most out of your inhaler, says Dr. Lan. If you feel your inhaler is not working and you have not been taught how to properly use your inhaler, ask your medical provider or pharmacist to show you how to use it.
Winter Weather Advisory Cold Air And Asthma
Dry and/or cold air is a trigger for airway narrowing and can be a weather-related asthma trigger. When you breathe in cold, dry air through your mouth, the air doesn’t get warmed by your nose first. The cold air goes to your lungs and airways. This can trigger an asthma attack. Breathing through your mouth is more likely when you exercise or exert yourself such as shoveling snow or skiing.
Follow these steps for reducing your chances of having asthma symptoms triggered by cold air:
- Wear a scarf or face mask over your mouth.
- If you normally exercise outdoors, consider an indoor sport for the winter, like swimming or basketball.
- If you do need to be outdoors in cold weather, you may need to use your quick-relief inhaler before you go outdoors. Talk with your doctor about a pretreatment plan.
- Always carry your quick-relief inhaler with you and protect it from cold temperatures.
Knowing how to manage your asthma can reduce missed work days, reduce or prevent hospitalizations and;allow you to do more of the activities you enjoy. Learn more about managing your asthma with our free ASTHMA Care for Adults program today.
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Cold Weather Exercise And Asthma
Exercising outdoors in cold weather may be a problem for people with asthma as both cold air and exercise are known triggers.
When you exercise, you tend to breathe in and out of your mouth instead of your nose. But its your nose that filters the air you breathe in, warming it up and adding moisture to it before it reaches your airways. So air breathed in through your mouth will be colder and drier when it gets to the airways than if it came via your nose.
This can also dry out the moisture layer that lines your airways.
If youre breathing in through your mouth during exercise you may also be taking in pollutants from the environment, such as dust and dirt. These may also irritate your airways and cause asthma symptoms to develop.
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.
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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.
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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Tips To Avoid Cold Air
To protect yourself from asthma flare-ups due to chilly weather, Wedner offers these suggestions:
- Cover your face: Drape a scarf across your mouth and nose, or wear a winter face mask that covers the bottom half of your face.
- Exercise indoors. Work out at a gym or inside your home, or walk laps inside a mall.
How To Deal With Asthma During The Winter
For many of the 25 million people with asthma, controlling it during the cold winter months can be difficult.
People with asthma may experience worse symptoms during winter or be more likely to have an asthma attack because theyre spending more time indoors, theyre more likely to get a cold or the flu, and the air outside is cold and dry.
The cold, dry air outside can trigger asthma, but staying indoors more with the windows closed around dust mites, mold, pet dander and other allergens can also cause asthma to flare up, said Anthony Wylie, D.O., a primary care physician at Geisinger Mt. Pleasant. In addition, when someone with asthma gets a cold or the flu, it can trigger an asthma attack.
Asthma is a chronic lung condition where irritants can cause the airways in your lungs to become inflamed and swollen, making it harder to breathe. Your lungs might also produce mucus as a result, which can further narrow your airways.
If you have asthma, you might experience periods of wheezing, coughing, shortness of breath and tightness in the chest. These symptoms sometimes go away on their own; however, people with asthma often use a long-term medication to control ongoing symptoms, as well as a short-term rescue inhaler for symptoms that appear quickly.
1. Breathe through your nose
2. Wear a scarf around your mouth when outside
3. Clean frequently
4. Get a flu shot
5. Work out indoors
6. Create an action plan
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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.
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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Impact Of Cold Air On Asthma
For people with asthma, cold air and the winter season can be a source of worry and stress, not knowing how and if they may be able to breathe properly over winter.
Exposure to cold air can bring on asthma symptoms. This can be problematic for people with asthma and interfere with their quality of life, interrupting planned activities over the winter.
The Link Between Winter And Asthma
There are several reasons why cold weather is particularly challenging for those who suffer from asthma.
The biggest one that comes to mind is infection rates, says Dr. Canfield.
Certain viruses, including the flu, and illnesses such as upper respiratory infections are more frequent in winter. We tend to spend more time indoors, which means were in close contact with others who may expose us to these contagions, thus potentially worsening asthmas bronchial symptoms.
A host of allergens poses another threat when we hunker down inside and keep the windows closed. Seemingly innocuous things like pet dander and house dust to more problematic issues like mold can worsen or trigger asthma symptoms. Airways of the lungs can become inflamed and swollen, and asthma sufferers may experience increased coughing and wheezing.
Getting allergy tested and getting the advice of an allergist is helpful, says Dr. Canfield. Its important for people to know if they have allergic triggers to their asthma and how to avoid those.
There are specific things you can do around the house to limit your exposure, such as using allergen-proof bedding and covers, avoiding excessive humidifying, and ensuring proper ventilation in your home.
Threats dont solely exist indoors, however.
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Why Can Cold Air Trigger Asthma
People with asthma have airways that are more sensitive, and prone;to inflammation.;Cold;air can lead to;dryness in the airways,;the tightening of the muscles around the airways;and;impair the normal function;of the airways to clear inhaled substances. All of this;can lead to an increase in;asthma symptoms.
In Australia, we are generally used to breathing warm, humid air which is what our lungs need to stay vital and healthy and clear debris that we breathe in.
Cold and dry air conditions make;it;harder for our lungs;to do the things it needs to;in order;to;make our breathing easy and keep us healthy.
Winter Is Here And So Is The Season Of Allergies It May Be Worse For Asthmatics Considering They Are More Prone To Allergic Reactions Than Others
- Sarika Rana
- Asthma is a respiratory condition that is tough to completely cure
- Winter is here and so is the season of allergies
- When you are exposed to a food allergen, your immune system over-reacts
Every individual reacts to various foods differently, but there are certain foods that can trigger an asthmatic attack in this cold weather. Here are some foods suggested by Nutritionist Dr. Simran Saini from Fortis Hospital, which an asthmatic MUST AVOID.
1. Sour fruits
Citrus fruits increase the risk of asthma attack. The pulp in these fruits can be one of the major triggers of asthma. It is best to avoid them.;
Citrus fruits increase the risk of asthma attack
2. Cold dairy products
Asthma patients should keep away from dairy products like milk, ice cream, yogurt, cheese as much as they can, as they can easily trigger an attack, which may include wheezing and coughing.;
Asthma patients should keep away from dairy products like milk, ice cream, yogurt, cheese3. Junk food
is not only bad for your waistline but also for your lungs. According to a study published in the British Medical Journal, more servings of fast food were found to increase the risk of severe asthma by 39 percent for teens and 27 percent for children. Researchers revealed that it may be due to high levels of saturated and trans fat found in these foods, which can further weaken the immune system.
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How To Manage Asthma Symptoms During Winter
Although there is nothing you can do to completely get rid of your asthma symptoms during cold weather, there are plenty of things you can do to minimize your symptoms and make life more enjoyable. Here are a few things you should plan on doing this winter season if you want to avoid being miserable until next spring.
- Exercise indoors instead of outdoors.
- Take your asthma medication 10 15 minutes before you leave the house or exercise.
- Bundle up appropriately for cold weather, even if you are only planning to be outside for a few minutes.
- Try to keep the nasal passages clear with irrigation, saline spray or decongestants.
- Stay indoors on particularly symptomatic days or when the weather is extremely dry and cold.
- Always keep an emergency inhaler with you.
- Wear a scarf over your nose and mouth when you are outdoors.
If you do all of these things, you give yourself a better opportunity at managing your asthma symptoms and enjoying the winter season like you should.
What Types Of Treatments May Be Given For Uncontrolled Asthma Symptoms
When asthma is at its worst, you may have additional symptoms such as feeling anxious, having an increased heart rate and rapid breathing.
You may be given treatments such as oxygen therapy and bronchodilators. These are medicines that help you breathe easier and open up your airways. You may also be given steroids to help get the inflammation in your airways under control.
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How Cold Weather Can Increase Your Asthma Symptoms
If you suffer from asthma, then you know that there is most definitely a connection between this uncomfortable condition and the weather. Just as an arthritis patient can often tell when it is about to rain because they can feel it in their bones, an asthmatic can often tell when the weather is changing because they can feel it in their lungs. With cold weather coming on, it is important to recognize its effect on asthma and learn how to minimize that effect.
Staying Inside Can Trigger Asthma Symptoms
While the weather outside is frightful, its also important to account for the asthma triggers that can affect us when were not leaving the house. The home can be a minefield of respiratory irritants such as pet dander, dust, and mold. Triggers differ from person to person, but breathing in one or more of these can also cause spasms and tightening of the airways. Talk to a doctor to establish which triggers are connected to your asthma symptoms, and take necessary precautions, such as:
- Cleaning regularly: When youre spending your days indoors, its important to stay on top of the accumulation of dust, dirt, and other particles that may make breathing more difficult.
- Maintaining pet-free spaces: We love our furry friends, but spending a lot of time around them means contact with allergens that can cause asthma attacks. Keeping them out of your bedroom can help limit your exposure to dander.
- Keeping your space cool and dry: Dust, mold, and other allergens are less likely to gather in an environment that is cool and dry. Using a dehumidifier can make a big difference.
- Ensuring proper ventilation: Allergens and irritants are more likely to proliferate in stale, stagnant air, so make sure to maintain good airflow in your home. This can include things as simple as using a range hood over your cooking surfaces or running the bathroom fan while showering.
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