Managing Asthma During Winter
People with asthma dread the winter months, and for good reason – studies have found that lower temperatures are associated with a higher risk of hospital admission for asthma. The cold and dry air causes coughing, wheezing, and makes breathing a hard task. Asthma leads to swollen airways in your lungs; the airways are narrowed, causing difficulty in breathing.
The condition is difficult to control during winter since the dry air irritates the airways, not to mention the flu and other infections going around in the cold weather. You also have to stay indoors more, which exposes you to dust, mould, pet dander, and other allergens, which can all trigger asthma. How do you make it through winter with asthma? Apart from your regular asthma treatment, you can manage the condition by following the tips below:
Tips for Managing Asthma During Winter
Washing your hands is the simplest method of avoiding infections like cold and flu viruses associated with winter. Therefore, you should wash your hands with soap and water or cleanse with a hand sanitiser. Ensure everyone in your household does the same to reduce the spread of germs within your house.
Flu can worsen your asthma symptoms. While asthma does not make you susceptible to the flu, once you contract the virus, it will heighten asthma symptoms like wheezing and coughing. Therefore, you should get a flu shot to prevent infection by the virus, which has been shown to be effective in reducing the frequency of asthma attacks. Also, it would be best if you considered a pneumonia vaccine too, to cover all the bases.
- Replace Filters in Your Home Air Purifier
If you have pets in the house, you will be exposed to pet dander and many other allergens. The air conditioning system may blow dust into the house if the filters are not clean, so it’s best to make sure they’re dirt-free before turning on the system for the winter. If the filters are old, consider replacing them. It is also vital to maintain temperature and humidity levels in the house. If your home has high humidity, it will be a breeding site for mould, which could trigger symptoms of asthma.
Exercising outside in the cold weather exposes your airways to cold and dry air. Your airways usually have a protective layer of mucus, but the dry air increases the evaporation rate of this fluid. Since it cannot be replenished fast enough, your airways become swollen and irritable, leading to a worsening of your asthma. To avoid experiencing shortness of breath during workouts, you should exercise indoors.
You can also avoid asthma flare-ups in winter by covering your face. A scarf would suffice, and it can shield your airways from the cold, dry air by warming it up before you breathe it into your sensitive airways. Another way to ensure you breathe only warm air is by keeping your mouth closed. That way, you will only breathe through your nose, which makes sure the air is warmed before it reaches your lungs.
One of the reasons why asthma symptoms escalate in winter is the increase in the body’s mucus production. In cold weather, the airways are lined with more mucus, whose role is to trap pathogens. However, during the cold season, the mucus is thick and sticky, giving the body a hard time to get rid of it. However, if you consume additional fluids, it will make the mucus thinner and easier to remove from the body.
There are numerous allergens indoors during the winter, which makes asthma symptoms more pronounced. You should dust and vacuum your home regularly to get rid of these allergens. It would help if you also laundered your bedding regularly to get rid of dust mites.
While keeping your asthma in check during winter is challenging, the above tips will help you get through the season. It is also vital to create a plan with the doctor to manage your asthma during the cold season. However, most of the time, your regular asthma treatment will suffice.