Millions of Americans suffer from asthma, including 6.2 million children under the age of 18. Asthma can be extremely frightening for your child, so it is vital to have all of the information you need to ensure your child stays safe and healthy. Certain factors can make your child’s asthma worse, including cold weather. Depending on the climate and temperatures where you live, your child’s asthma may get worse in the winter.
Does Asthma Get Worse In Winter?
If your child suffers from asthma, you may notice an uptick in asthma attacks induced by the cold weather. There are a number of reasons why cold weather impacts your child’s airways. Asthma occurs when the bronchial tubes (airways) swell and become inflamed. When the airways become narrower, it is often difficult to breathe and can cause asthma attacks. Below you will find out specifically why cold air can impact your child’s asthma symptoms.
Airways are lined with mucus that protects your child’s body from unhealthy particles. Your child’s body will likely produce more protective mucus during the winter months as it is cold out. The mucus layer becomes thicker and stickier than the normal. With that, the extra production of mucus can make your child more susceptible to catching a cold or other infection.
Cold air is often dry, and the lack of moisture can make your child’s airways become swollen or irritated. This is because your child’s airways are lined with a thin layer of fluid that evaporates faster when cold, dry air is breathed in. This can worsen asthma symptoms as the moisture is reduced, leaving the airways susceptible to irritation.
The risk of influenza increases in late fall and early winter. The flu can set off asthma symptoms and has been found to be the most common factor among children who are hospitalized with the flu. Because children with asthma already have compromised airways, they are more likely to develop health complications such as pneumonia.
Proactive Steps for Controlling Asthma in the Winter
If your child has asthma, finding a pediatric pulmonologist is key in creating an action plan. This is especially true if your child was recently diagnosed as the weather is turning colder and winter is near. A pulmonologist can provide your child with long and short-term medicines to help control the symptoms of asthma. Long-term medicines can help control your child’s asthma and help reduce the risk of asthma attacks before they even start.
Also, quick-relief medicines can be taken when your child is experiencing an asthma attack or shortly before its onset. In addition to talking with a pediatric pulmonology NYC expert, help your child take the following precautions to ensure their asthma is under control during the winter.
- Flu Shot: Talk with your child’s doctor and pediatric pulmonologist first, but it is advisable to get an annual flu shot to reduce the risk of contracting the flu during the winter months.
- Avoid: Have your child stay away from anyone who is sick or appears to be sick. If someone in your own family is sick, be sure to separate your child from the other sick family member to reduce their risk of contracting any illness.
- Hydrate: Have your child stay hydrated by drinking lots of water during the winter months. This can help reduce the amount of mucus in their airways.
- Clean: Keep your house clean by vacuuming and dusting often to ensure that indoor allergens that can impact your child’s asthma are removed.
- Laundry: Wash your child’s sheets and blankets (and even the whole family’s) every week in hot water to get rid of harmful allergens, including dust mites.
If your child suffers from asthma that worsens in the winter, contact Dr. Shukla. Dr. Shukla is board-certified in pediatric critical care medicine, pediatrics, and pediatric pulmonology. He has over 5,000 asthma patients each year and was voted the best asthma doctor in New York City! He has even been featured in The New York Times for his work. Instead of entering the winter months worried about your child’s asthma, contact Dr. Shukla today!