Colorado winters are notorious for their frequent temperature changes; but it looks like winter is finally here to stay. This changing weather, especially with cold dry air, can make it more difficult to breathe. When cold dry air enters the lungs, it causes contracted airways. This can be dangerous for people with asthma. Every season has its own triggers, and for winter, breathing in the cold air is one of them.
Winter Asthma Triggers
The colder weather can also change your lifestyle. Since cold weather outside forces people 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, but theses triggers are common in the winter:
- Cold air
- Colds and flu
- Indoor allergens
As most people with asthma know, common symptoms of an asthma attack include:
- Trouble breathing
- Tightness in your chest
- Wheezing and coughing
5 Tips to Manage Asthma in the Winter:
1. Warm up the Air You Breathe
Cold, dry air is the main problem for asthma sufferers during the winter months. One easy way to warm the air you breathe is by breathing through your nose instead of your mouth. Your nose is your own personal humidifier. As air passes through your nostrils, the air gets warmer and dampened before it reaches airways. Warming and humidifying the air prevents the dry, cold air from reaching your lungs and triggering an asthma attack. You can also wear a facemask or wrap your nose and mouth with a scarf. This helps keep moisture and warm air going into your lungs.
2. Cold Air and Exercise
Warming up is important when exercising, but in the winter it is crucial. Instead of warming up with a jog outside, try warming up on a treadmill before heading out into the cold air. Avoid exercising outside when the temperature is in the single digits. This helps prevent an exercise-induced asthma attack. Breathe through your nose or facemask while exercising, to warm up the air you are breathing.
3. Indoor Allergens
As is gets cold outside you, your family and your household pets spend more time inside. What are your indoor asthma triggers? Are they dust, mold, or pet dander? Take steps to reduce those allergens. Regularly replace furnace filters and check humidity levels.
4. Colds, Flu and Asthma
Prevention is so important when dealing with influenza or a cold. Regularly wash your hands. Use hand sanitizer on the go to kill germs that can cause respiratory infections. Avoid those who are sick. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth where germs can enter.
It is recommended that people with asthma get vaccinated for the flu each fall. It’s never too late to get your flu shot! Peak flu season lasts from December through February. So even if you haven’t gotten the flu there is still a chance you will.
5. Asthma Basics
Our physicians at Colorado ENT and Allergy believe asthma should not limit your activities. Don’t forget to take your asthma medication with you when out in the cold in case of an attack. Know what triggers your asthma and take steps to protect yourself. Refresh yourself with your asthma action plan and know what to do in case of an asthma attack.
If your asthma symptoms are out of control this winter, we are here to help. Schedule an appointment with one of our asthma specialists today.