How to Control Asthma in Cold Weather

Do you avoid leaving the house when it’s cold outside? Asthma sufferers understand more than others that a change in temperature can impact your lungs. A sudden change in weather can be an asthma trigger for some people. Learn how to control asthma attacks with these tips.

Learn The Causes

Simply speaking, when cold air enters the airways, it can trigger a spasm. This swelling or narrowing of the airway makes it much harder to take in air, which causes symptoms such as coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath and tightness in the chest. So what about winter weather causes this to happen?

Cold Air is Dry

Dry air can irritate your airways, causing the thin layer of fluid lining your airways to evaporate as you breathe in. Cold air also causes your airways to produce histamine, the same chemical your body generates during an allergic attack. When you breathe in cold, dry air through your mouth, the air doesn’t get warmed by your nose first. The cold air goes to your lungs and airways. This can trigger an asthma attack. Breathing through your mouth is more likely when you exercise or exert yourself – such as shoveling snow or skiing.

Follow these steps to control your asthma and reduce your chances of having asthma symptoms triggered by cold air:

How to Control Asthma in the Winter

Staying indoors during winter may protect you from the cold air, but can still increase your asthma symptoms! Inside your home, you may be exposed to more indoor air pollutants, such as dust mite droppings, chemical off-gassing from cleaning products, or particulates and fumes from cooking. Increased time at home means more exposure and you’re also in closer proximity to friends, coworkers, and family, which means germs spread faster, which can be especially problematic for those with viral-induced asthma.

While it is impossible to avoid all asthma attacks, but knowing a few things can help you make good decisions about what is best for you.

Finally: Learn how to control asthma by taking your doctor’s advice!

There’s no substitute for professional medical help. Your asthma and its triggers are specific to you, so make sure to visit your doctor or asthma nurse regularly to review any medications you are on and to keep your asthma plan up-to-date. Carry your inhaler with you at all times.

For more useful tips, read our article: Is Your Indoor Air Worsening Your Asthma? 

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Joe Medosch
Hayward Score Healthy Building Scientist Joe Medosch has almost 30 years of experience as a contractor and 10 years as a master trainer with expertise in home performance, particularly in health and energy-efficiency. His proficiency includes building science & diagnostics and Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) assessments. He has served on numerous committees developing industry standards including: RESNET Standard 380, Equipment Sub-Committee, and BPI multifamily standards development.
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