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What To Do If You Have Asthma And A Cold

How Winter Can Affect Asthma

Asthma symptoms can worsen in different environments and may vary with the seasons, and winter is no exception. Aside from dry, cold winter weather irritating airways, more time spent indoors means more exposure to indoor . Winter can also bring an increased risk of viruses that can aggravate your asthma.

What You Need To Know About Your Childs Asthma

There are many things to think about and plan for when your child has asthma. It is important to learn as much as you can about the condition. Your doctor and pharmacist are there to help you. Talk to them about any concerns you may have about your childs asthma. To manage your childs asthma effectively, it is important to know: 

  • the pattern of their asthma 
  • their asthma medications what they do and how to help your child take them properly 
  • what to do if they have an asthma attack know and follow asthma first aid

Make sure you have an updated written asthma action plan and understand how to use it. 

Question 5: Do You Keep Getting Chest Infections

You answered yes.

You answered no.

  • People with asthma have sensitive airways so are at a higher risk of developing chest infections.
  • Often following a cold or a bout of the flu, a chest infection can considerably worsen asthma symptoms.
  • If you have a chest infection which isnt clearing up, or you keep getting them again and again, consult your doctor, as this may be an indication that you have asthma.

What To Do If You Have Covid

If you have any of these symptoms or if you have been exposed to someone who has COVID-19, contact your doctor right away and avoid contact with others unless absolutely necessary. Call before you go to your doctors office and ask for instructions. Your doctor may have a special process for you to follow so you dont risk spreading it to other patients and staff. They may have you get tested for COVID-19 and will give you further instruction.

If you have these severe symptoms, call 911 or go to the emergency room right away:

  • Trouble breathing or shortness of breath
  • Pain or pressure in the chest that doesnt go away
  • Newly confused or cant wake up
  • Bluish tint on lips, face or fingernails

If you have to leave home for treatment, wear a face mask to prevent spreading the virus. Isolate yourself from people you live with and wear a face mask around them even at home. Clean and sanitize surfaces that are touched often like doorknobs, light switches and cell phones.

Asthma Action Plans For Children

Asthma UK on Twitter: "Do you know what to do if someone ...

An asthma action planis a clear written summary of instructions for when your childs asthma symptoms change. Everyone with asthma should have a personalised asthma action plan written by their doctor. 

Your childs asthma action plan will tell you: 

  • how to recognise when your childs asthma is getting worse or an attack is developing, and the steps you should take to manage it 
  • symptoms that are serious, indicating a need for urgent medical help  
  • your childs asthma triggers. 

Make sure you understand and can follow the asthma action plan from your doctor. 

Move Away From Triggers

The presence of asthma triggers wont only cause an attack, they can also make your symptoms worse. Be sure to try to get away from things that may be triggering your asthma attack.

For example, if youre in an area where people are smoking cigarettes, you should move away promptly.

Its also important to know your triggers. Common triggers include:

  • , such as pet dander, pollen, or certain foods

You should always be sure to seek immediate emergency medical treatment if you experience any of the following symptoms during an asthma attack:

  • your symptoms continue to get worse even after treatment
  • you cant speak except in short words or phrases
  • youre straining your chest muscles in an effort to breathe
  • your shortness of breath or wheezing is severe, particularly in the early morning or late-night hours
  • you begin to feel drowsy or tired
  • your lips or face appear blue when youre not coughing

Symptoms that indicate that you could be experiencing an asthma attack include:

  • severe shortness of breath

Cold And Asthma Treatments

There are a variety of products available over-the-counter or on the internet that claim to help prevent or reduce the severity of a cold. Some of these products can interact with your asthma medications or make your symptoms worse. Plus, the safety and effectiveness of many of these products is still not clear. Always check with your doctor first before taking any supplements or over-the-counter medications or products to prevent or treat your cold.

If you have a cold, whether or not you have asthma, it may help you to:

  • Drink extra fluids

  • Eat soup, such as chicken soup, to break up congestion and provide easy-to-digest nutrients and fluids

  • Get extra rest and sleep

  • Take acetaminophen for , , and body

If you have a child under the age of six, you should not give them cold or medications because of the risk of serious side effects. In addition, you should not use aspirin or products that contain aspirin because of the risk of developing a rare, life-threatening condition called Reye syndrome. has been linked to taking aspirin during a viral illness, such as a cold or flu.

If you suffer from asthma and develop a cold, tell your doctor if your asthma symptoms get worse or are more difficult to control. Your doctor can adjust your asthma treatment and start treatment for complications if needed.

Signs Symptoms And Complications

How often signs and symptoms of asthma occur may depend on how severe, or intense, the asthma is and whether you are exposed to allergens. Some people have symptoms every day, while others have symptoms only a few days of the year. For some people, asthma may cause discomfort but does not interfere with daily activities. If you have more severe asthma, however, your asthma may limit what you are able to do.

When asthma is well controlled, a person shows few symptoms. When symptoms worsen, a person can have what is called an asthma attack, or an exacerbation. Over time, uncontrolled asthma can damage the airways in the lungs.

If You Suspect You Might Have Asthma Definitely Head To The Doctor

Your doctor will probably give you a physical exam first to examine the general state of your health. After that, theyll likely put you through some lung function tests, such as a spirometry, which checks how much air you can exhale after taking a deep breath as well as how fast you can expel air, according to the Mayo Clinic. Or they may do a peak flow test, which measures how hard you can breathe out. If you cant exhale enough air or breathe out quickly, it may be a sign your lungs arent working well, which could point to asthma, Dr. Benzaquen says.

There are other exams they can use, too, like exposing you to methacholine, a known asthma trigger, to see if your airways narrow, or allergy testing, since allergies and asthma are so often connected.

If you are diagnosed with asthma, itll be within one of four categories, according to the Mayo Clinic. Mild intermittent asthma means you have minimal asthma symptoms for up to two days a week and up to two nights a month, while mild persistent asthma means youre experiencing symptoms more frequently than twice a week, but not more than once on any given day. Moderate persistent asthma ups the ante: Youre dealing with symptoms once a day and more than one night a week. Finally, severe persistent asthma involves constant symptoms most days and frequently at night too.

How Can You Tell The Difference Between Covid

Tanya B.

Cold and flu season is here, and the new coronavirus that causes COVID-19 is still spreading. With every cough or sniffle, you may wonder if its asthma or allergies, the flu, the common cold or even COVID-19. But how can you tell the difference?

The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America has created a respiratory symptoms chart to help you recognize the difference between these conditions.

But How Do You Know If Your Condition Is Asthma

First of all, it pays to know what asthma is. Asthma is simply a pulmonary disease characterized by an inflammation of the airways leading to lungs. When these airways swell and muscles around them tighten, the amount of air that passes through the airways is reduced. Thus, the shortness of breath or asthma attack. This happens especially when thick mucus fill the airways.

One way to distinguish asthma from common allergies is that allergies occur in the upper respiratory system. This is usually the case for nasal congestion, nasal drip and sinus pains resulting in chronic coughing. Meanwhile, asthma occurs when airways that carry air to and from the lungs are inflamed.

However, the most efficient way to diagnose asthma is through several breathing tests done by physicians. Medical examinations can be a combination of any of the following:

Know that asthma manifests differently to different people. While others may exhibit chronic wheezing, some may be experiencing chest tightness and shortness of breath. To be able to manage asthma, its best to consult your physician, be properly diagnosed, and get the necessary prescriptions.

Your Level Of Asthma Control

If your asthma is well controlled,  your airways will be less sensitive to exercise. You’ll find exercise is less of a trigger for you.If you find exercise makes your breathing a lot worse, it could be a sign that your asthma is not controlled. Tell your doctor about your symptoms and ask how to get your asthma under control.If your asthma is usually well-controlled, but you’ve got a cold, flu, or other respiratory infection, you could be more likely to get symptoms while exercising. If you’ve been sick, pay careful attention to your symptoms. It may be a good idea to exercise less while you’re getting over your chest infection.

Asthma Symptoms Acute Vs Chronic

How Cold Weather Can Increase Your Asthma Symptoms

In medical related matters, acute simply means short term, and chronic means long term. Although asthma is a chronic disorder, since it usually lasts a long time , you can have both chronic and acute asthma symptoms. If someone does not properly manage their asthma, they can have regular chronic symptoms for many weeks, months, or even years. For example, they could experience a regular cough that lasts a long time if not managed properly.

Then on top of the regular chronic cough, they may also sometimes experience an acute asthma worsening that leads to a symptom such as shortness of breath. This could perhaps be due to getting a cold, or exposure to pollen or air pollution.

When someone has asthma, it is very important to keep it well controlled so that there are no chronic asthma symptoms. You cant avoid all asthma symptoms all the time, but in general the symptoms should be uncommon and mild.

It is also very important to monitor your asthma so that you notice when there are acute asthma symptoms starting and can take the necessary measures to get it under control before it leads to an asthma attack. A written asthma action plan from your doctor can be very helpful in guiding your treatment decisions.

  • Medical history
  • Test results, such as a lung function test

How To Tell You Have Asthma

In this section: Diagnosis and Lung Testing | How To Tell You Have Asthma | Your Healthcare Team

Asthma is a complex disease to diagnose, and only a healthcare professional is able to make a proper .

If you are concerned that you may have asthma, contact your healthcare provider. In order to confirm an asthma diagnosis, your healthcare provider will take into account your medical and family history, allergies, and conduct lung function testing such as spirometry.

Childhood Vs Adult Symptoms

Children and adults generally have similar symptoms. But, identifying asthma symptoms in children can be more difficult, especially in younger children who may not be able to tell you how they are feeling.

Here are some things to watch for in your child that could indicate asthma:

  • Not being able to keep up with other children while running around
  • Having a hard time catching their breath or breathing faster than other children who are doing the same thing
  • Looks like they have a cold, which could actually be asthma
  • Coughing, especially at night
  • Wheezing
  • Feel restless, irritable and/or very tired

What to do:

STEP 1: Immediately use a fast-acting reliever inhaler . Use a spacer if provided.STEP 2: Check your symptoms. If they are gone, you can go back to your normal activities. If they symptoms get worse or do not improve within 10 minutes, this is an emergency. Follow the steps below.

What Are The Symptoms Of A Cold

Cold symptoms often begin with throat discomfort or sore throat. That discomfort is followed by clear, watery nasal discharge; ; fatigue; and sometimes a slight . Postnasal drip from your nose and can cause you to have a cough.

For the first few days of a cold, your nose is filled with watery nasal secretions. These secretions may become thicker and darker. Dark does not necessarily mean that you have developed a bacterial infection. However, since a cold may trigger your asthma, be especially watchful for symptoms.

Continued

  • Chest tightness

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:

  • Keep your mouth and nose shielded with a scarf to warm the air before you breathe it in.
  • Use a short-acting albuterol inhaler at the first sign of symptoms to keep asthma from worsening.
  • Stay inside as often as you can. Breathing warmer air will help open up your airways. Just make sure youre inside a place with no indoor allergens and irritants.
  • If you experience symptoms frequently in cold weather, talk with your doctor about a long-term treatment plan.
  • 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.

    Tips To Make Winter Easier On Your Asthma

    Don’t let the cold, dry air or a common cold worsen your asthma symptoms. Follow these tips to stay healthy when the temperatures dip.

    Thinkstock

    Unless you love stepping outside to cold, dry air that smacks you in the face, winter can be a dreary season. For people with asthma, the cold weather can worsen their symptoms.

    There are two issues with winter for people with asthma, notes Marilyn Li, MD, an allergist and immunologist with the LAC+USC Healthcare Network in Los Angeles. One is that the air is cold and dry, and the other is people have more and upper respiratory infections, either of which can trigger or worsen asthma attacks.

    To keep a handle on asthma attacks during the cold-weather months, here are 10 things you can do.

  • Wash your hands. Properly washing your hands with soap and water is one of simplest and best ways to avoid spreading or catching colds and other viruses, Dr. Li advises. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers and moist towelettes also do the trick. Also emphasize the importance of good hand washing to your children to even further reduce the chances of spreading germs around your house.
  • Dont sit by the fireplace. While sitting by the fire sounds lovely and cozy, its not so great for your asthma. The more evidence we have, the more we realize that burning wood is like burning tobacco, explains Todd Rambasek, MD, of ENT & Allergy Health Services in Cleveland. Smoke is smoke, and smoke can irritate your lungs, especially when you have asthma.
  • 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.

    Can Asthma Be Cured

    Asthma

    There is currently no known cure for asthma, but with proper and asthma management it is fully possible for people with asthma to live healthy, active and symptom-free lives.

    There is still much research that needs to be done to fully understand how to prevent, treat and cure asthma. Asthma Canadas National Research Program is committed to supporting leading asthma researchers and graduate student researchers working to expand our knowledge and one day, unlock a cure. 

    Lab And Imaging Tests

    If the symptoms are severe and abnormal breathing sounds are detected, your doctor may order blood tests to investigate whether viral pneumonia, RSV, or influenza is involved.

    If a bacterial infection is suspected, a throat swab or sputum culture may be performed.

    The doctor may also order a chest X-ray or a computed tomography scan to check if there is evidence of pneumonia or other lung abnormalities.

    In emergency situations, pulse oximetry or an arterial blood gas test will be used to see if blood oxygen levels are low. Other pulmonary function tests may be performed to evaluate how well your lungs are functioning during and after an acute attack.

    Allergen testing may be useful in diagnosing allergic asthma, but it does not necessarily exclude viral-induced asthma as a cause.

    Even if a respiratory virus cannot be identified, the co-occurrence of a respiratory infection with a reduced forced expiratory volume of 20% or more is strongly suggestive of viral-induced asthma, particularly in people with well-controlled disease.

    Given that viral-induced asthma is as common as it is, findings like these will often warrant treatment even if the viral culprit is not identified.

    How Allergies and Asthma Are Connected

    Easier Said Than Done Right

    I am finally at an age where I shouldnt have to do these tasks anymore. I have kids that are old enough they can help out some. I also have access to more money now, so some of these jobs can simply be hired out. For instance, I can hire a service to manage my yard. And Im sure theres a kid who will shovel snow. So, those tasks will be pretty easy to .

    Other tasks might not be so easy to avoid. For instance, who am I going to get to through all those boxes of stuff. Most of that stuff is probably junk and can just be tossed out. But, amid that junk might be a treasure. Still, is the reward here worth the risk? Probably not.

    Everyday Treatment For Asthma In Children

    The main aims of day-to-day asthma treatment are to: 

    • keep symptoms under control 
    • keep lungs as healthy as possible 
    • stop asthma from interfering with school or play 
    • help your child enjoy a full and active life. 

    Your doctor will help you to develop a plan to manage your childs asthma which will include an asthma action plan , and will prescribe the correct medication to help you do so. 

    Are There More Advanced Treatments For Severe Uncontrolled Asthma Symptoms

    Advanced asthma treatments include medicines called , which are made from natural substances. These drugs help by reducing your bodys reaction to asthma triggers and controlling inflammation.

    If your asthma is not controlled with steroids or other methods, bronchial thermoplasty may be an option. Doctors use an electrode to heat the inside of your airways. This procedure helps relax the airways to help you breathe easier.

    Learn more about biologics, bronchial thermoplasty and other asthma treatment options >

    When in doubt, its always best to ask for help. When left untreated, uncontrolled asthma can cause long-term damage to your lungs that can make it even more difficult to breathe.

    If your asthma symptoms are not improving, schedule an appointment with a pulmonary specialist at the Temple Lung Center.

    Preventive Steps You Can Take

    Asthma is not a curable condition and the best a person with asthma can do is work towards managing it as effectively as possible. In the case of asthma that is triggered by cold weather, you can take a few simple steps to ensure that the weather does not come in the way of your plans. Here are a few precautions to note:

    • Always be prepared when youre stepping out during winter or if the temperature drops below 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Carry your prescribed reliever medication with you wherever you go.
    • If you know that youre going to step out, take your reliever medication 10 15 minutes before exposure to cold air. It will help keep your airways open and compensate for the sudden change in temperature.
    • Make sure youre wearing clothes that insulate you from the cold. Wear gloves, a scarf, and a hat. Research has shown that covering your mouth and nose with a mask can help reduce the risk of an asthma attack.
    • Your nose is designed to warm and humidify the air before it enters your lungs. So avoid breathing through your mouth and always breathe in through your nose.
    • Exercising outdoors when the temperature is low increases your risk of exercise-induced asthma. Workout indoors or go to a gym where the temperature is regulated.
    • Keep yourself well hydrated so that your airways remain moist and dont go dry because of the cold air. If possible, try and avoid meeting anyone who you know has a cold or the flu.

    Question 1: Do You Make A Wheezing Sound When You Breathe Out

    You answered no.

    • Asthma is caused by an irritation of the airways, medically known as the bronchi.
    • When they become inflamed, the walls of the bronchi swell and tighten, causing them to narrow.
    • They may become coated with mucus, obstructing them further.
    • This causes a whistling sound when trying to expel the used air.

    You Can Have Asthma Without Hearing A Wheeze

    The wheeze is often not at all obvious; you may need a stethoscope and trained ears to hear it. Also, some children with asthma dont wheeze at all: they just cough. Coughing is the main symptom of asthma in most children. Its how the body tries to get and keep those airway tubes open.

    Now, of course there are plenty of other reasons that children might cough. The common cold and postnasal drip from allergies are the most common. But if your child coughs often at night or after exercise, has a frequent nagging dry cough, or gets a really bad, lingering cough with colds, you should talk to your doctor because it could be asthma.

    Other Asthma Triggers: Workplace Triggers Food Triggers

    What are the asthma symptoms and how do I know if I have ...

     

    Some people have asthma triggers at work things like smoke, fumes, or cold air. If your asthma is triggered by something at work, you have work-exacerbated asthma. Most people’s asthma triggers are inhaled . But for some people, asthma symptoms can be triggered by things they eat, drink, or swallow. These are some other asthma triggers:

    • sulphites, chemicals used to preserve some food, like dried fruit and red wine
    • MSG , a flavour enhancer use in food
    • Aspirin

    Some people with asthma also have food allergies. People with any allergy that causes anaphylactic shock should keep their epinephrine kit with them at all times.

     

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