Winter weather brings special challenges to those with asthma. The cold air outside tends to worsen asthma symptoms often causing coughing fits when walking outdoors. That same cold weather keeps people indoors more often where they are breathing common asthma triggers such as mold, pet dander, and dust mites.
Winter is also the time of year when sinus infections and other respiratory illnesses are most common – and those are especially tricky for people with asthma. Let us help you with a few tips to breathe a little easier this winter.
Reduce asthma attacks indoors and out
1. Wear a scarf when going outside. The simple act of warming and humidifying the air you breathe can help reduce those coughing fits that are so common when walking outside in the winter.
2. Breathe through your nose not your mouth. Your nose is nature’s air-warmer. Breathing through your nose warms up the air for the lungs.
3. If you are on medication for your asthma, you might need to use your inhaler before going outside in the cold air. This preventative dose can help your airways stay open when outside and help you avoid breathing problems.
4. Wash your hands. It’s advice you hear often this time of year and people with asthma should take heed. Common colds, flu and other viruses are especially tricky for those with asthma. Keeping your hands clean is a simple and effective step to staying healthy and reducing your asthma symptoms.
5. You’re inside more often in the winter so take steps to keep your indoor air clean: don’t use your fireplace, clean your furnace filter regularly, consider getting an air filter, clean kitchen & bathroom counters that are mold hot spots and dust frequently.
If you have pets they are probably spending more time inside as well. Be sure to keep them bathed and brush them at least weekly.
Don’t let the cold weather stop you from getting regular exercise. Whether you dress appropriately for the weather or find a place to exercise indoors, exercise can be a great tool to help reduce your asthma symptoms all year round. Talk about an exercise program with your physician to make sure you’re doing things that won’t aggravate your symptoms. Exercise helps build lung capacity which, in turn, helps reduce the likelihood of asthma attacks. However, exercise-induced asthma is a problem for some people. Let your doctor help you find the best balance.
Dealing with asthma can be especially challenging in the winter but it’s not impossible. Taking a few extra precautions this time of year can help you breathe easy.
Learn more about your asthma
Asthma is something that affects all ages but it can be managed so that it doesn’t limit your life. Learn more about asthma symptoms, risk factors and treatments in our Health Library.