Kentucky and Southern Indiana winters are notorious for their sporadic temperature changes, however it looks like winter is finally here to stay. Changing weather, especially when it comes with cold, dry air can make it more difficult to breathe. When cold, dry air enters the lungs it causes the airways to contract, which is dangerous for those suffering from asthma. Each season has its own triggers, and for winter, the cold air you breath is just one of them.
Asthma Triggers in Winter
The changing weather also changes your lifestyle, as cold weather outside often forces many to spend more time indoors. Colds and the flu are also more prevalent during winter months and can be riskier for those with asthma. Asthma triggers vary from person to person, however theses triggers are common in the winter:
- Cold air
- Colds and flu
- Indoor allergens
Common symptoms of an asthma attack include trouble breathing, tightness in your chest, wheezing and coughing.
Here Are 5 Tips to Help You Manage Asthma This Winter:
1. Warm up the Air You Breathe
Cold, dry air is the main problem winter brings to those with asthma. One easy way to warm the air you breathe is by breathing through your nose instead of your mouth. Think of your nose as your own personal humidifier. When air passes through your nostrils, air is warmed and dampened before it reaches your airways. Warming and humidifying the air prevents the dry, cold air from reaching your lungs and triggering an asthma attack. Alternatively, wear a facemask, or wrap your nose and mouth with a scarf to help trap moisture and warm air for your lungs.
2. Exercising in Cold Air
In general, warming up is important when exercising, but during the winter it can be crucial. Instead of warming up with a jog outside, try warming up on a treadmill before heading out into the cold air. One good rule to follow is to avoid exercising outside when the temperature is in the single digits, as this can help prevent an exercise-induced asthma attack. Remember to breathe through your nose or through a facemask while exercising, to help warm up the air you breath.
3. Allergens Found Indoors
As the temperature drops, the time you, your family and your household pets spend inside increases. Know your indoor asthma triggers, whether they are dust, mold, or pet dander. Take steps to reduce those allergens, including replacing furnace filters and monitoring humidity levels. See our 5 tips for reducing indoor allergens here.
4. Colds, Influenza and Asthma
When dealing with the flu or a cold, prevention is most important. Wash your hands frequently and use hand sanitizer on the go to kill germs that can cause respiratory infections. Avoid those who are sick, and avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth where germs can enter.
We recommend those with asthma get vaccinated for the flu each fall. It’s not too late to get your flu shot! Peak flu season typically lasts from December through February, so even if you haven’t gotten the flu there is still a chance you will.
5. Don’t Forget Asthma Basics
Our physicians at Family Allergy & Asthma believe asthma should never limit your activities. While out and about in the cold, don’t forget to take your asthma medication with you in case of an attack. Know what triggers your asthma and take steps to protect yourself against them. Another good idea, it to refresh yourself with your asthma action plan and know what to do in case of an asthma attack.
If your asthma symptoms are not in control this winter, we are here to help. Schedule an appointment with one of our asthma specialists today.