Winter Asthma Triggers

Winter Asthma Triggers

Winter Asthma and how to deal with it

As temperatures drop and the winter weather starts, you might find that you're having more asthma flare-ups. Many people find that their asthma symptoms worsen in winter.

There are many possible causes of winter asthma symptoms, including an increased possibility of catching illnesses that are spread during winter months. Cold and frosty air has an impact.

Winter can also be a time for increased damp and mould, which also have an impact on people with asthma.

Winter Asthma symptoms

In winter, you might find that you're having more asthma flare-ups. Winter asthma symptoms include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Increased coughing
  • Wheezing
  • A tight feeling in the chest

If you feel that you're having asthma symptoms, you should follow your own asthma action plan and use your reliever inhaler.

Winter Asthma triggers and causes

There are many potential causes of winter asthma symptoms. Winter asthma triggers include:

Cold air:

The cold air can irritate your lungs and airways. Winter air is often an irritant, leading airways to become swollen.

In some cases, the cold air makes your body release histamine. Histamine is the same substance that is released in people with allergies. Taking anti-histamine medications may help. The cold air can trigger asthma as it is usually drier and can irritate your airways.

Damp and mould:

Damn and mould are common asthma triggers. These exist at all times of the year but are more common through the winter months. Condensation on windows can lead to mould growth.

Most people also keep their windows closed through winter, which means that there's very little air circulation inside their house.


Illnesses spread during winter months. It seems like everyone you meet has a cough or cold. Illnesses can cause asthma flare-ups.

Be aware of your asthma symptoms if you've caught a common winter illness. Even the common cold can affect asthmatics more than the general population.

Many people with asthma are encouraged to get the annual flu vaccination, to reduce their risk of becoming ill over the winter season. Asthmatic children and young adults are particularly susceptible to winter illness and flare-ups. This is because they often spend September and October around many new people in confined spaces at school, college or university. This leads to an increased chance of illness being spread.

Students should watch out for Freshers' Flu - a general illness that tends to be spread around universities through the first term, as people from all parts of the country bring their own common illnesses together.

Winter can also increase the changes of catching a common cold or flu. Bronchitis, a type of COPD can develop from a common cold or flu and is also more popular in the winter months.

Open fires and wood burning stoves:

As nice as they may look and smell, open fires can be potentially troublesome for many asthma sufferers. Burning wood can give off many small particles that circulate the air within a room or confined area. When breathed in, these small particles can irritate the airways and 

How to treat your asthma

There are a number of asthma inhalers that can all help with the different types of asthma and triggers.

If you're experiencing winter asthma symptoms, you should follow any existing asthma action plan. Keep your reliever inhaler with you all the time, so that it's on hand when you need it.

If you use a daily preventer inhaler, it is important to keep this daily routine even when symptoms seem mild. The medication needs consistent use to build up to the correct level. Breathing through a light scarf can help to reduce asthma symptoms that are triggered by cold air. You might also want to take over-the-counter anti-histamine medication.

Experiment with open windows. Some find that the flowing air eases their asthma symptoms, whilst others find that this cold, dry air may have a negative effect. If you're finding that your asthma symptoms worsen in winter, then speak to a medical professional.

For more treatment options that may be available to you, please visit our asthma treatment page for a list of all different types of asthma inhalers.

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