If you have asthma, you already know how the winter months seem to aggravate your symptoms. This is common due to the double dose of challenges that the colder seasons present. Spending more time indoors is a logical response as the mercury plummets and, when you do venture outside, that colder air has its own effects. Both of these conditions can contribute to more frequent and more intense asthma attacks.
When you have an asthma attack, the airways of your lungs narrow due to inflammation and your body produces more mucus. This can make you feel short of breath, as though you can’t get enough air, and it may also trigger wheezing and coughing as associated symptoms.
There’s a wide variation in severity among people with asthma. Some may be seriously debilitated while others aren’t affected much. The onset causes of asthma attacks, called triggers, also vary from person to person, with some people having attacks closely associated with allergies or other respiratory conditions. Asthma can’t be cured, and it sometimes changes over time, getting better or worse. As a result, living with asthma is typically a symptom management process.
9 tips to ease winter asthma symptoms
For those who have greater difficulty with asthma symptoms during the winter months, here are nine tips that may help you cope more easily:
Understand your asthma triggers: Though it may take time and trial and error to identify the factors that start your asthma attacks, your knowledge of these is a powerful weapon in your asthma management efforts.
Take your medications as prescribed: Always use your preventer inhaler as instructed by your doctor and carry your reliever inhaler, using it at the first sign of symptoms.
Use a scarf over your nose and mouth: Loosely draped, a scarf provides you with a mix of warm and cold air, so the effects of outside air are limited, preventing colder air from drying your air passages.
Exercise indoors: If your usual routine includes walks around the park, consider moving indoors, such as at a local mall or exercise center with a walking/running track, particularly if you’re prone to exercise-related asthma effects.
Practice deliberate nose breathing: Breathing through your nose also warms air more effectively than mouth breathing, so extreme cold air is moderated better before reaching your lungs.
Keep indoor conditions cool and dry: If dust mites are a trigger, keep your home cool and dry to present mites with a hostile environment for growth, using exhaust fans, for example.
Use mite-proof bedding: Mattresses, box springs, and pillows can all be fitted with mite-proof covers to further reduce the presence of this common asthma trigger.
Limit your contact with pets: Animal dander is another common asthma trigger, so even making your bedroom a pet-free zone may improve your ability to breathe through the winter months.
Protect yourself against cold and flu: Winter is also prime time for respiratory illnesses such as cold and flu, which can create additional asthma problems, so consider a flu shot and extra hand-washing to reduce your risk.
The specialists at the Allergy Asthma & Immunology Institute are your partners in asthma management, so if your self-care efforts fall short, call or click today to arrange a consultation.
Symptoms of allergic rhinitis have other causes as well, the most customary being the common cold – an example of infectious rhinitis. Most infections are relatively short-lived, with symptoms improving in three to seven days.
The period from late February to summer tends to be the worst for many allergy sufferers.
Why? Because “tree pollens such as oak, maple, and river birch are blooming during this time,” making it peak allergy season in Virginia!