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Coping with winter asthma

Coping with winter asthma

By Theodore Moon MD

Dec 16, 2019

Updated Jul 13, 2023

5 min read

Coping with winter asthma

Dealing with asthma is never easy but having asthma during the winter can be downright miserable. During the winter you naturally spend more time indoors. With pet dander, mold, and dust mites floating through the indoor air, and cold air outdoors, it’s common for asthma symptoms to worsen. Learning how to cope with winter asthma symptoms can make your winter better. Learning these asthma tips can help.

Understand your asthma triggers

Everyone who has asthma knows that there are certain triggers that can cause a flare-up. Asthma triggers cause your throat to constrict and mucus to form. This can make you wheeze, cough, or struggle to breathe. You may notice certain triggers in your daily life. If you don’t know your triggers, your doctor can help determine what they might be. Common triggers include:

  • Mold
  • Pet dander
  • Dust mites
  • Smoke (from tobacco or a fireplace)
  • Outdoor air pollution
  • Cold or dry air

Once you know your asthma triggers, it becomes easier to avoid those triggers. For example, if pet dander is a common trigger for you, you may need to avoid spending long amounts of time with pets.

Protecting yourself from cold air outdoors

Cold, dry air can make your asthma symptoms worse. It irritates your airways and makes your muscles spasm. Avoid asthma flare ups due to cold air by covering the bottom half of your face when you go out. You can wear a mask or scarf. This will help to warm up the air before you breathe it in. Train indoors to minimize the effect of cold air on your exercise regimen.

Replace air filters

Modern heating systems in our homes are wonderful. They can keep an entire home warm for minimal effort and cost, but they also require air filters that filter out junk from our indoor air. As the seasons change from fall to winter, it’s a great time to change your air filter for a clean one that will catch more pollutants in your air. 

Use a humidifier

Being sick is no picnic. Being sick when you have asthma is even worse. Upper respiratory tract infections can make asthma symptoms worse. Winter is the time when sickness abounds. Protect against severe asthma symptoms by:

  • Getting a flu shot early in the season. Aim for October.  
  • Wash your hands regularly. 
  • Stay away from those who are sick.
  • Keep your hands away from your face. Touching your face is one of the most common ways sickness can spread.
  • Discuss with your doctor whether you need a pneumonia shot. 
  • Work with your doctor to develop an action plan for when you have worsening asthma symptoms.

Take prescribed medications

The start of winter is a busy time. From social engagements to the holidays, it’s easy to let your asthma treatment plan lapse. Instead of treating your asthma after you have an attack, be diligent in treating your asthma. Follow your doctor’s recommendations. Take your medications as prescribed to avoid flare-ups.

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