For people with asthma, winter is a dreary season. It can trigger or increase their risks of attack. It can irritate hypersensitive lungs, causing inflammation and bronchospasm. The muscles around the irritated bronchial tubes become constricted and narrower, making it harder to breathe. An increase of mucus in the lungs can limit breathing, resulting in wheezing, coughing and tightness in the chest.
Stepping outside to cold, dry air that smacks you in the face can disrupt the quality of life in the winter. Don’t let the winter chills worsen your asthma symptoms. Follow these tips to stay healthy when the temperatures dip.
6 Tips to Reduce the Risk of Asthma Attacks in Winter
1. Wash Your Hands
Washing your hands with soap and water is one of the simplest and best ways to avoid spreading germs, and catching colds and other infections. If water is not accessible, alcohol-based hand sanitizers also work.
2. Get a Flu Shot
Having asthma won’t make you more susceptible to the flu, but if you do get the flu, the effects could be more serious. People with asthma should get the injectable form of the flu vaccination, not nasal spray vaccine because it contains live virus.
3. Keep Your Mouth Closed
Keeping your mouth closed is proper etiquette, but it is also better for your lungs. Ideally, you want to breathe through your nose, especially when you are out in the cold because it helps warm up your lungs. Another way to warm and humidify the air you breathe is covering up with a scarf or jacket over your nose and mouth.
4. Replace Air Filters
Your home heating system may accumulate dust and debris throughout the house, especially when running. It is important to clean and replace filters regularly so dust and debris do not trigger an asthma attack.
5. Exercise Indoors
Cold dry weather can be problematic for people with asthma, increasing constricted airways and breathing difficulties. If you have asthma, and still want to enjoy outdoor activities in the winter, make sure your mouth is covered; either with a neck scarf, ski mask, or turtleneck. Ensure your nose is also kept warm and that you’re inhaling warm air.
Generally, for asthmatics, the recommended exercise should take place indoors during the winter. Make sure heating filters are changed, use a humidifier in the room when you exercise, and make sure the area is clean and dust-free. These tips will reduce the likelihood of an asthma attack.
6. Create an Asthma Action Plan
You should always know what to do if your asthma symptoms flare up. Your action plan should include how to control your asthma, what to do if you have an asthma attack, the name and contact of your doctor, and when to go to the ER.
Take your medications. Consult with your doctor or asthma specialist to create an effective treatment plan, and schedule regular checkups. It is important to follow your treatment plan as instructed – regardless of the time of year. If you find your asthma symptoms worsen in the cold climate, talk with your doctor about changing your treatment plan. Keep your asthma under control and at bay.
Schedule a Consultation
Asthma and cold air are unpleasant when combined. If your child is suffering from asthma in cold weather, it may be time to discuss a prevention and treatment plan with your doctor. To get you started, discuss and review your treatment options in order find the perfect option. Schedule an appointment with Dr. Shukla today.