Contributed by: Rachana Arya
Winter is difficult for everyone, but if you have asthma, it might be the most challenging time of the year for you. With the temperatures, dipping below normal, cold-induced asthma can make symptoms worse for a variety of reasons.
Asthma is more difficult to manage during the winter months for asthma sufferers. The cold, dry air and abrupt weather changes can literally take your breath away. Sometimes the symptoms become so incapacitating, that even stepping outside or doing light workouts can make breathing difficult, accompanied by wheezing and coughing.
In this blog, we are going to shed more light on some winter triggers and why the cold triggers asthma symptoms and what you can do to find relief, in order to enjoy winter without symptoms getting in the way.
What is winter asthma?
Asthma is a condition that affects your lungs’ airways and makes it hard to breathe. Changes in weather and fluctuations in temperature are primary asthma hazards since they are known to inflame airways.
When the cold and dry air is inhaled, it irritates the passageways and the bronchial tubes. For people with asthma, the bronchial tubes are already inflamed. This causes asthma flares, making it more difficult to regulate breathlessness, even with an inhaler or prescription medications.
Why does my asthma get worse in winter?
People often find their asthma symptoms get more and more aggravated during winter. There are many reasons for this. It’s likely because of one or more of following asthma triggers around at this time of year, including:
- Cold weather
- Cold and flu
- Chest infections
- Damp and mould
- Dust mites
- Central heating
- Open fires and wood-burning stoves
How are cold weather and asthma attacks related?
To begin with, a person with asthma has a constant level of inflammation in his or her airways. The chilly, dry air might irritate and result in inflammation in your airways. This makes it more difficult for oxygen to reach the lungs. This is why, even when their asthma isn’t in a flare-up, people with asthma have trouble breathing.
Are symptoms of asthma different in the winters?
The symptoms of asthma are the same in the colder months as they are in the warmer months. The difference is that during the winter, you may discover that your symptoms are worse than usual, more difficult to control or occur more frequently. Look for the below symptoms:
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Tightness in the chest
- Wheezing, especially when breathing out
What treatments help uncontrolled asthma symptoms?
If uncontrolled, asthma can cause irreversible damage to your lungs. Given that colder months can be a recipe for flare-ups, it is important that you take action before the asthma symptoms become uncontrolled.
When asthma is at its worst, you may experience additional symptoms such as:
- Feeling anxious
- Having an increased heart rate
- Rapid breathing
How can I keep my asthma under control during winter?
If you suffer from asthma, you are already aware that prevention is your best strategy. Go back to the basics.
Here are some suggestions for avoiding asthma attacks brought on by chilly weather. Staying on top of your asthma treatments and triggers keeps your asthma symptoms at bay.
- Limit your time in vigorous outdoor activities by shifting to any hobbies you can inside
- Avoid exposing your lungs to cold, wintry air
- Keep your mouth and nose covered with a scarf to warm the air before you inhale it in so as to help open up your airways.
- Avoid places with indoor allergens and irritants
- Keep your nasal inhaler with you at all times
- Drink a lot of water, broth-based soups and decaffeinated tea to stay hydrated
- Wash your hands with soap and water to prevent the spread of respiratory illnesses
- Dress warmly when you go out. Keep gloves and an extra jacket just in case of an emergency
- Breathe through your nose when you’re outside so that your nasal passages warm the air before it moves into your lungs
- Carry your inhaler with you when you go out
- Look for alternative ways to exercise if you usually exercise outdoors.
- If you have an indoor fireplace, try to keep it empty, when it’s not being used
- Avoid exposure to outdoor fire pits, or sit at a comfortable distance
- Use an indoor humidifier indoors, especially at night
- Do not skip your daily asthma medications
Cold weather conditions are more likely to induce asthma. Therefore it is recommended that you should take the necessary precautions and medications on time. And if you, your child, or another loved one is prone to winter month attacks, don’t hesitate to visit your doctor. Also, it’s vital for asthma patients to keep a check on their condition by taking periodic asthma checkups.
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