For those living with asthma, it’s not uncommon for symptoms to worsen in the winter.
The cold, dry winter air serves as an irritant for lung diseases like asthma, COPD and bronchitis. People spend more time indoors during the cool winter months, leaving them more exposed to asthma triggers such as mold, pet dander and dust mites.
Signs of lung irritation include:
- Shortness of breath
- Chest tightness
The first step for an asthmatic is identifying what situations trigger these adverse symptoms. From there, you can formulate a plan to protect your lungs all season long.
To avoid serious medical emergencies, take daily steps to manage their asthma in the winter.
Carry a Scarf. If a sudden change in temperature triggers asthma symptoms, consider using a scarf to cover your nose and mouth on colder days. When exiting a warm building and stepping into the cooler winter air, the scarf will act as a barrier, providing additional warmth and moisture for air that enters the lungs.
Use an Inhaler as Prescribed. For patients who use an inhaler to manage symptoms, it is important to stay on schedule. Continue to use a control inhaler (as prescribed) and carry a rescue inhaler at all times. If an asthmatic finds that they are using a rescue inhaler excessively, they should consult with their doctor.
Get a Flu Shot. When asthma patients contract the flu, it can make breathing even more difficult (COPD patients are also more likely to experience complications with the flu). Immunization is the best way to avoid contracting the virus. To minimize the risk of catching a common cold, wash your hands regularly and avoid contact with anyone who is ill.
Consider Air Quality. People who spend more time indoors during the cold winter months are exposed to more indoor air pollutants. An indoor air purifier can help remove some irritants from the air at home.
Support System. In case of emergency, those with severe asthma should keep friends and family informed of their whereabouts.
By learning their asthma triggers and preparing accordingly, you have the best chance of staying safe and healthy throughout the winter months.