Asthma can have any number of triggers which will cause a flare-up or full-blown asthma attack. With an estimated 25 million people diagnosed with asthma in the US (as per the CDC) you more than likely know at least one person who has asthma or you, yourself may even have asthma.
One of the most common triggers of an asthma attack is due to pollutants or irritants in the environment. This is followed closely by exercise and cold weather. If you have asthma you are most likely already aware of what triggers will cause a flare-up as well as what symptoms lead up to an asthma attack.
There are a number of reasons why colder temperatures can affect your asthma. Cold air is drier than warm air and breathing in the cold, dry can cause your airways to become inflamed similar to the way your body would react in a severe allergy reaction. You may feel your airways and even your chest tighten and find it more difficult to breathe.
If you do feel these symptoms coming on, it’s best to make sure you have an inhaler handy to counter the effects and avoid an asthma attack. Medication in your inhaler will help to bring down any swelling and inflammation to open up your airways again. Even if your asthma is mild during the summer months you may want to consider using a daily inhaler during the winter months to help minimize your symptoms and reactions.
A daily use inhaler contains different levels of medication from a rescue inhaler and you will want to work with your doctor to find the medication that works the best for you.
There are also some lifestyle changes you can implement in order to minimize some of the effects of cold air on your asthma. Since your nose is able to warm air better than your mouth, try breathing through your nose as much as possible. A mask or face covering can also help keep the air around your nose and mouth a little warmer. If you live in an area that gets inversions in the wintertime, a filtered N95 or p2.5 mask is also ideal for keeping out pollutants that can worsen your asthma.
Another good suggestion is to avoid strenuous activity while outside whenever possible. Studies show that cold weather and exercise-induced asthma go hand in hand. If you need to go outside to shovel, don’t be afraid to go inside for a break if needed. Try using a humidifier at home to help keep the air inside your house from drying out too much. If you get a humidifier that has filters, be sure to keep the filters clean and free from mold.
While cold weather can make managing your asthma a little more challenging, with proper management you should be able to keep living your life to the fullest.