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.
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How Can I Beat The Cold Air
The best way to beat the cold air and reduce your asthma symptoms is to get your asthma under control. Unmanaged asthma is the leading cause of asthma attacks and hospitalizations, so itâs crucial that you develop a comprehensive treatment plan alongside your doctor. If your asthma symptoms are worsening, you may need a change in your medication, treatment schedule, or drug delivery method.
You can also consider simple fixes, such as loosely wrapping a warm scarf around your mouth when breathing in cold air outdoors, and always having your rescue inhaler available if you need it.
For more information about AireHealthâs connected-portable nebulizer and how it could change your life in 2020, .
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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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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 Temperatures & Asthma: The Facts
Are you an asthma sufferer? If so, you may have noticed that when temperatures dip, you find it harder to breathe. Why is this and, more importantly, what can you do about it? Especially with winter in full force, its important to understand the link between cold temperatures and asthma.
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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.
How Can We Avoid Weather Triggers
Once you know what kind of weather triggers asthma symptoms, try these tips to protect your child:
- Watch the forecast for pollen and mold counts plus other conditions that might affect your childs asthma.
- Limit your childs outdoor activities on peak trigger days.
- Make sure your child wears a scarf over the mouth and nose when outside in very cold weather.
- Keep windows closed at night to keep pollen and molds out. If its hot, use air conditioning, which cleans, cools, and dries the air.
- Keep your child indoors early in the morning when pollen is at its highest.
- Your child shouldnt mow the lawn or rake leaves, and should be kept away from freshly cut grass and leaf piles.
- Dry clothes in the dryer .
- Make sure your child always has quick-relief medicine on hand.
Your childs written asthma action plan should list weather triggers and ways to manage them, including any seasonal changes in medicine.
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Why Does Cold Weather Act As An Asthma Trigger For Some People
The airways of people with asthma can become inflamed and make it more difficult to breathe.
This is especially noticeable when exercising in the cold.
Researchers believe this is due to the dual impact of the cold and dry air on the airways, plus the bodys increased need for oxygen during sport.
They point to people breathing in more through their mouth when exercising, instead of through their noses.
This is important because breathing through the nose can warm, filter and humidify the air before it gets to the airways in the lungs.
But when people breathe through their mouths, it goes straight to the lungs and is unfiltered, colder and drier.
Asthma Australia Senior Educator Gemma Crawley says breathing in cold, dry and potentially unfiltered air can dry out the airway, increasing irritation and sensitivity.
This can lead to tightening of the muscle around the airway, and this generates asthma symptoms, she says.
There are also often more viruses around in winter. This year, of course, we are experiencing the COVID-19 pandemic as well as the normal flu season, both of which impact the respiratory system, causing severe outcomes for some people.
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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.
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Paying For Your Medicines
Most adults with asthma will need to pay a prescription charge for their medicines.
If you need to take a lot of medicines, paying for each item individually could get quite expensive. You may find it cheaper to get a prescription prepayment certificate. This is where you pay a one-off charge for all your prescriptions over a 3- or 12-month period.
You will not need to pay for your medicines if you do not normally pay prescription charges. For example, all under-16s are entitled to free prescriptions.
Read more about prescription costs to find out if youre entitled to help with your prescription charges.
Role Of The Upper Airways In Health And Asthma
Breathing cold air has been long recognized to trigger bronchoconstriction in asthmatics. In a classical experiment Shturman-Ellstein et al. demonstrated that if subjects with asthma breathed only through the nose during the exercise challenge, an almost complete inhibition of the post exercise bronchoconstrictive airway response was observed . However, as the nose is serving as outermost filter for the inspired air, it is exposed to environmental hazards with consequent high frequency of morbidity. Adding to the atopic predisposition, it is likely that asthmatic subjects have concomitant rhinitis, which does not allow proper conditioning of the inspired air with negative impact on the asthmatic condition. The cross-talk and interplay between upper and lower airways has been a center point in the philosophy of the Allergic Rhinitis and its Impact on Asthma initiative and has been reconfirmed over the years .
In buildings with natural ventilation, the outside air penetrates through existing openings in the building enclosure, such as joints or cracks in the walls, intersect around the doors and through the opening of doors and windows. The outside air can be introduced in a closed environment through mechanical, or forced, ventilation system that can also perform the functions of heating or cooling the air inlet, depending on the season .
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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.
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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What Season Is Asthma Worse
Many people with asthma report that their asthma is worse in the winter season when the air is cold and dry. This is because breathing cold, dry air causes irritation of the airways in the lungs. Also, the airways produce more mucus when its cold, causing them to become narrow and making it harder to breathe. Whats more, cold and flu are common in the winter, and these are triggers for asthma. Also, when the weather is cold, people tend to stay indoors, which exposes them more to indoor triggers and allergens like dust, mold, pet dander, and cigarette smoke.
Some of the things you can do to reduce cold air induced asthma are:
- Wear a scarf loosely around your nose and mouth when outdoors. This will warm the air before you breathe it in, making it less likely to trigger asthma symptoms.
- Stick to your routine of preventive inhaler use. If your asthma is well controlled at a baseline, it is less likely to be triggered or worsened by cold weather.
- Keep your home well ventilated by occasionally opening windows or using an extractor fan. This helps reduce the load of allergic triggers indoors, such as dust mites, pet hair, mold, and dampness.
How Can My Story Help Others
When I provide virtual asthma education to families, I share stories to help them remember things. When we talk about asthma triggers, I share The Yogurt Story. That story helped someone realize they had asthma!
Before COVID, I was helping a family learn more about asthma. An older family member was nearby, but I didn’t think they were listening. Later, they became sick and started coughing. That family member told the parent that they thought they had asthma. When the parent questioned them, the family member said they overheard my Yogurt Story. And they realized that every time they ate or drank something cold, they started coughing too.
The parent took this sick family member into the clinic, and they were also diagnosed with asthma. Wow! It did help to share The Yogurt Story.
Do cold weather and/or cold food or drinks affect your asthma too?
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Can The Weather Affect My Childs Asthma
Yes. Weather conditions can bring on asthma symptoms. Some kids asthma symptoms get worse at certain times of the year. For others, a severe storm or sudden weather change can trigger a flare-up.
Hot, humid air also can be a problem. In some places, heat and sunlight combine with pollutants to create ground-level ozone. This kind of ozone can be a strong asthma trigger.
Wet weather and windy weather can cause problems too. Wet weather encourages mold growth, and wind can blow mold and pollen through the air.
If you think weather plays a role in your childs asthma, keep a diary of asthma symptoms and possible triggers and discuss them with your doctor. If pollen, mold, or other allergens make asthma symptoms worse, ask about allergy testing.
What Climate Is Best For Asthma
Extreme temperatures, i.e., too dry and cold air or too hot and humid air, are bad for asthma. Doctors suggest keeping the air conditioning in your home set at around 70 degrees Fahrenheit and perhaps a little cooler at bedtime. They also recommend keeping humidity levels between 30 and 50 percent. These temperatures and humidity levels can help you breathe better and keep allergens like dust mites and mold under control.
The truth is that there is no perfect weather for asthma. Many people with asthma find that consistency in temperature is what works best for them. It helps to keep symptoms under control, along with controlling irritation from allergens and pollutants.
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How To Avoid A Cold
Triggers, such as pollen, dust mites, and cold weather, are conditions that cause asthma symptoms to worsen or flare up. Allergy-induced asthma is triggered by airborne substances, such as pollen, mold spores, or particles of skin and dried saliva shed by pets .
If you or someone you know has asthma, it is important to be aware of these causes so you can limit your exposure to them as much as possible. As winter approaches and temperatures begin to fall, the dry, cold air can trigger an asthma attack.
So, what are the causes of cold-induced asthma attacks, and how can you avoid them? Here are three reasons the winter months affect asthma attacks and how you can prepare for them this year:
Cold and/or dry air can narrow your airway, which is referred to as bronchoconstriction, or the constriction of the airways in the lungs. This results in coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath.
Your airway is lined with a layer of protective mucus to remove unhealthy particles. In cold temperatures, your body produces more mucus. The mucus in colder weather is thicker and stickier than normal. Allergic reactions can increase mucus production, which can make you susceptible to respiratory infections and increases your risk for catching a cold.
Exposure to germs
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