Asthma and Cold Weather Triggers
Why is my Asthma worse in cold weather?
For many people, cold weather is the trigger for asthma flare-ups. These people can struggle through the winter, experiencing symptoms including increased coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath. Cold weather can also lead to a tight chest, or an asthma attack.
If your asthma flares up in cold weather, understanding the triggers and ways to avoid them could help you to manage your condition.
Why does cold air trigger asthma?
Cold air can irritate airways. When cold air passes through them, your airways can become swollen. The airways might also start to produce a hormone called histamine. Histamine is the hormone that's produced during allergic reactions.
Cold air is often very dry. As it flows through your airways, it dries them out and makes it harder to breathe.
How to avoid asthma attacks in the cold
If you're in a cold environment, you can reduce your risk of an asthma attack by breathing through a light scarf. Use your scarf to protect your neck, and warm up your airways.
If you're experiencing asthma symptoms, an anti-histamine medication may help. These can be purchased over the counter as allergy medication.
If you use a preventer inhaler, make sure that you're using it regularly. Many people forget their preventer when they're not experiencing symptoms, but it needs to be consistently used. The preventer inhaler builds up your strength over time, and using it only occasionally will not give you the proper protection.
Different types of Preventer inhalers:
- Clenil Modulite
- Symbicort inaler
- Seretide inhaler
- Pulmicort inhaler
- Fostair inhaler
Understanding your asthma weather triggers and how to treat it
Winter and asthma can be a notoriously problem pairing as there are more asthma triggers during winter than any other time of the year. If you notice a pattern of asthma flare-ups during cold weather, then it is important to take precautions. Exercising in cold weather can make asthma worse, so you may want to exercise indoors if temperatures outside are low.
Nobody can completely avoid being outdoors in cold weather. And, you wouldn't want to. Even for asthmatics, fresh air is very important. So, you'll want to understand and recognise your asthma triggers. If the cold weather makes you cough more, then consider anti-histamine medication. If it makes your throat feel dry, consider breathing through a light, thin scarf to warm and moisten the air.
If you start to experience asthma in cold weather, follow any existing asthma action plan. Your reliever inhaler should ease the symptoms, and might need to be used more frequently during the colder seasons.
Consider heading indoors if your asthma symptoms have increased in cold weather. The sudden change from cold air to warm air may result in an increase in coughing, but should slowly make your breathing more comfortable.
Try to drink more in cold weather. This extra hydration can thin any mucus that's building up naturally, and make it easier for your body to move it.
You will also want to be careful with cleanliness around the home. As cold weather forces many people to spend more time indoors, it is especially important to remove indoor triggers of asthma-like dust and mould. Keep your house ventilated where possible, and make sure to vacuum and to wash your soft furnishings frequently.
We can't avoid cold weather. But, by taking precautions and recognising cold air as an asthma trigger, you should be able to avoid the most serious asthma symptoms.