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Tips for Managing Asthma in Winter

Written by Courteney

Posted on February 2, 2017 at 2:08 am

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Winter can be a tumultuous time for asthmatics. Between the cold air, Christmas trees and backed-up dust, many asthmatics experience a noticeable spike in symptoms this time of year. So, what can be done?

Have Your Puffer Handy

This one sounds obvious, but many moderate-to-severe asthmatics let themselves become a little forgetful sometimes about medications and that is not ideal. Asthma can be a life-threatening condition, claiming over 4,000 American lives annually, so the condition is not one to trifle with. Just the same as an anaphylactic person would always carry their EpiPen, an asthmatic should never go anywhere without their puffer. A good rule of thumb is to put a rescue inhaler in each purse or bag you use regularly, another in your car, as well as having a few around the house.

Avoid Sub-Zero Workouts

The cold, dry air of winter can wreak havoc on hypersensitive lungs. Cold air acts as a trigger for asthma or COPD by causing the airways to narrow (bronchial constriction), which makes it much more difficult to breathe. Exercising outdoors in cold temperatures increases this risk twofold by adding the already-present dangers of physical exertion on asthmatic lungs to the constriction caused by the cold. It is not a good idea for asthmatics to exercise in cold weather, but if you must, wear a scarf over your face and take your puffer beforehand (and take it along with you while you exercise, in case of an attack).

Avoid Winter Triggers

It goes without saying that you’ll have an easier season if you do your best to avoid triggers that usually cause attacks for you. While summer poses more dangers for many asthmatics such as pollen and humidity, winter carries its own respiratory risks. Aside from cold air, some common winter asthmatic triggers include:

  • Wood burning stoves – Not all asthmatics react to smoke, but many do. Wood smoke is thick and can be a major trigger for an asthmatic enclosed in a home with a wood-burning stove going.
  • Christmas trees – it usually isn’t the tree itself that causes any problems, but the types of mold growing on them. Mold is a common trigger for those with asthma or allergies.
  • Forced air heating – forced air heating can cause problems for asthmatics because it can create issues with mold as well as constantly stir up dust mites.

Rework Your Management Plan

Sometimes attempting to avoid potential triggers isn’t enough to keep your asthma under control in the winter. If you are finding more wheeziness, coughing or chest tightness than usual, talk to your doctor (or one of ours!) today to look at readjusting your asthma management plan for the season.

Thanks for visiting DocChat! Stay happy and healthy.

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