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, particularly a decrease in temperature, can affect the respiratory system in a number of ways. When the air is colder and drier, it can cause the airways to become irritated. This irritation can cause the body to produce more mucus, which can further exacerbate respiratory issues. In addition, the cold air can cause the muscles around the airways to contract, leading to bronchial constriction. This constriction can make it difficult to breathe and can lead to wheezing, a high-pitched whistling sound that is often heard during exhalation. These effects can be particularly problematic for people with pre-existing respiratory conditions, such as asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). To minimize the impact of air temperature changes on respiratory health, it is recommended to dress appropriately for the weather, avoid prolonged exposure to cold air, and seek medical attention if symptoms persist or worsen.
- 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
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