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When dealing with asthma during winter, you may notice your asthma becomes less easily controlled. Here are some explanations why this happens –
- Air temperature changes
Changes in air temperature, especially when temperatures decrease, can have a significant impact on the respiratory system. Colder and drier air can irritate the airways, triggering an inflammatory response. This inflammation can stimulate the production of excess mucus, worsening respiratory symptoms. Additionally, the cold air can cause the muscles surrounding the airways to constrict, leading to bronchial constriction. This narrowing of the airways can make breathing challenging and result in wheezing, a high-pitched whistling sound during exhalation. These effects pose particular challenges for individuals with pre-existing respiratory conditions like asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
To mitigate the impact of air temperature changes on respiratory health, it is advisable to take certain measures. Dressing appropriately for the weather by wearing warm clothing and covering the mouth and nose with a scarf can help protect the airways from cold air. Avoiding prolonged exposure to cold air, especially during extreme temperatures, is crucial. If respiratory symptoms persist or worsen despite these precautions, seeking medical attention from a healthcare professional is essential for proper evaluation and management of respiratory health.
- Respiratory illnesses
During the winter months, respiratory illness, such as colds and influenza, are more prevalent. People spending more time indoors together facilitates the more ready spread of these infections. Additionally, colder air increases the production of a thicker layer of mucous in the lungs, thereby increasing your chances of contracting an illness.
- Outdoor exercise
Breathing in colder air causes restriction in the airways. In someone asthmatic this can lead wheezing and coughing. Exercise, which requires an increased lung capacity, exacerbates these symptoms.
Tips For Preventing Asthma Events
Steps to prevent asthma exacerbations, particularly when dealing with asthma during winter include –
Drink lots of fluids and avoid caffeine. Keeping hydrated aids blood flow and consequently helps circulate white blood cells more readily, allowing them to fight illness like cold and flu more readily.
- Hand washing
Wash hands often and thoroughly with soap and water to limit exposure to illnesses.
- Mask when indoors
- Get your flu and covid vaccinations
- Avoid air pollutants such as firepits
- Use humidifiers especially when sleeping
- Be compliant with daily asthma medications
Dealing With Asthma During Winter: We’re Here To Help
In addition to the previously mentioned tips, here are a few more suggestions to dealing with asthma during winter:
- Maintain indoor air quality by regularly cleaning and dusting your living space.
- Keep windows closed to prevent exposure to cold outdoor air.
- Use a scarf or face mask when going outside to warm the air before it enters your lungs.
- Consider using a peak flow meter to monitor your lung function regularly.
- Engage in indoor exercises or activities to stay active while minimizing exposure to cold air.
- Stay up to date with weather forecasts to plan your outdoor activities accordingly.
- Discuss with your healthcare provider about adjusting asthma medications to suit the winter season.
Remember, proper asthma management and timely medical attention are essential for a healthier winter season. Don’t hesitate to reach out to healthcare professionals for personalized guidance and support.
If you are experiencing discomfort due to your asthma or suspect you might have asthma, visit your PCP or local Urgent Care Center to be seen promptly. If you are experiencing a serious emergency, such as a sudden and severe inability to breathe properly, please dial 911 or visit the nearest ER immediately.
Deborah Mogelof, MD
Medical Director and Attending Physician
© Excel Urgent Care and Affiliates 2022