The cold, blustery winds of winter weather bring added conditions that can trigger asthma attacks. To avoid complications and flare-ups, all people with asthma are advised to take precautions when venturing out in cold weather.
Winter is a prime time for asthma attacks. The combination of cold weather, irritants from indoor air and the risk of respiratory tract infections, such as the common cold and influenza, can be especially hazardous for people with asthma.
Lung disease is the third-leading cause of death in America. Asthma, an obstructive lung disease, is the seventh-ranked chronic condition in our nation.
The following tips can reduce asthma attacks in winter:
- Consult your doctor for ongoing asthma care and proper medication. Beware that there is a risk in taking over-the-counter cold medications to treat symptoms.
- Avoid cough suppressants as they only cover up coughing, which may be a warning sign of asthma.
- In cold air, cover the nose and mouth with a scarf to warm and moisten the air you inhale.
- Dress appropriately to avoid chills that can lead to respiratory infections.
- Avoid exercising outdoors in cold weather.
- Get your influenza shot – it can help you avoid severe respiratory infections.
- Refrain from using wood stoves or fireplaces – they increase indoor air pollution.
- During winter months, indoor air can be very dry and irritating to air passageways. If this is a problem, use a humidifier. However, be sure to clean it and change the water daily to avoid mold, another asthma trigger.
- If you find that exposure to cold air causes you to cough, speak with your physician, since this may indicate that you have asthma.
Millions of Americans suffer from asthma – over one-third of them, are under the age of 18. It is important for adults and parents of children with asthma to watch for symptoms in cold winter weather if they want to reduce attacks. Triggers such as smoke, cold air and dust cause the airways in the lungs to swell, the muscles of these passageways to constrict and the linings of the passageways to secrete more mucus. This narrows the opening that air passes through and leads to difficulty in breathing.