By Dr Veluvarthi Vijay
Consultant Interventional pulmonologist
Published on 29/11/2022
The snow, hot tea, warm blankets, and cold days! Winter has arrived with its several perks. But if you or any of your family members have asthma, the winter season can be quite unpleasant, and cold weather might provoke asthma attacks in some people!
Weather and temperature fluctuations are known to irritate the airways and trigger asthma flare-ups. Cold weather can make breathing difficult for people with inflamed bronchial tubes. However, with some forethought, one can breathe more efficiently throughout the colder months. Several treatments and preventive measures can help a person with asthma reduce the impact of cold air. Let's learn how to manage asthma in the winter and recognize the signs that can cause it to trigger!
Does cold air trigger asthma?
When an asthmatic breathes in cold, dry air, the muscles inside begin to spasm while also attempting to keep the airways open. This aggravates the lining of the airways, resulting in wheezing, shortness of breath, and coughing.
The dryness in cold air can cause breathing problems for many people with asthma. Cold air combined with windy conditions might also cause symptoms. The chances of being affected by cold air increase with how severe your asthma is.
What are cold weather-induced asthma symptoms?
Asthma symptoms in cold weather are identical to those in asthma induced by other factors. These are some signs of asthma:
- Wheezing, especially while exhaling
- Coughing, whether dry or phlegmatic
- Tightness in the chest
- Shortness of breath
Can cold air cause an asthma attack?
If anyone has severe asthma and cold air is a trigger, one might be at risk of having an asthma attack in cold weather. However, asthma doesn't make you endure a bleak winter, and one can take steps to reduce cold-weather asthma attacks.
Now the question is: How to handle asthma in winter?
Means to Deal Cold Weather Asthma
Here are 8 ways to deal with cold-weather asthma:
Get a flu shot
Getting a flu vaccination early in the season can help keep people healthy throughout the winter. Consult the doctor to see if a pneumonia vaccine would be beneficial.
Even while exercising outdoors has its benefits, asthmatics should avoid heavy breathing because it increases the risk of asthma episodes. Better options include indoor gyms, workout courses, and even walking laps.
Wear a scarf
Wearing a scarf will protect airways by warming the air people breathe and staying warm in general to help prevent respiratory infections.
Take indoor breaks
Take frequent breaks indoors to warm up while participating in outdoor activities.
Drink warm liquids
Tea, hot cocoa, coffee, and other liquids can not only warm you up, but the water will also clear out mucus and make breathing easier.
Maintain a clean living environment
Dusting and vacuuming on a regular basis can help to keep dander, and other allergen triggers to a minimum. Changing air filters and having an air purifier will also help.
Take asthma medications
Take all medications as directed, even if your symptoms go away. Inhaled steroid treatments reduce inflammation. Nasal sprays moisturize nasal passages and rescue inhalers to open airways during asthma attacks.
Buy a humidifier
During the winter, interior air gets dry and irritates the nose and lung passages in the same way outdoor air does. A humidifier restores moisture in the air. Take special precautions to ensure that the water reservoirs and filters are mold-free.
Asthmatics, be cautious of cold air!
Asthma affects each person differently. If being cold makes your asthma symptoms worse, you should treat it like any other flare-up. On the coldest days, check on the weather and try to stay inside. If you have to go out, cover your face with a scarf or mask. Protect your health to prevent a virus from triggering an asthma attack. Set the interior humidity level so that breathing is as comfortable as possible.
Take your medications as directed by the doctor. Don't skip using your inhaler or other asthma medication when you're feeling good if you've been prescribed one. Always adhere to your plan in order to prevent unnecessary flare-ups.
The winter season brings its own set of challenges, especially for asthmatics, but they are manageable with the right knowledge. Asthmatics can limit the frequency of winter-related asthma attacks they suffer with proper awareness and safeguards.
Enjoy the cold months and breathe easily.
Consult a pulmonologist right away if your symptoms worsen!