If you’re an East Coast resident living with asthma, you're likely well aware of the effect cold weather has on your asthma symptoms. With average daytime temperatures hovering around 30°F, winters in Connecticut can get chilly.
Wintertime can make it more challenging to manage your asthma, but understanding how cold weather affects your asthma is the best way to prevent flare-ups and keep your asthma well controlled.
Here at Rheumatology and Allergy Institute of Connecticut, board-certified allergy and immunology specialist Reinhard Kage, MD, is in your corner through every season. Winter here in Manchester and the surrounding areas is a particularly tricky time for patients with asthma.
Cold weather is known to trigger flares for people with asthma. In this post, we provide helpful tips to keep your asthma in check this winter.
Understanding cold weather and asthma symptoms
Individuals with asthma have bronchial tubes that are sensitive, triggered by things such as cold air. When the outdoor temperature drops and you inhale cold air, it can irritate the lining of your airways and cause symptoms such as coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath.
For people with asthma, wintertime can trigger flare-ups more so than other seasons. Cold air can cause symptoms especially when it's dry and accompanied by windy conditions. Typically, the more severe your asthma, the higher the likelihood that cold air will trigger symptoms for you.
Limit indoor triggers
Not only is the cold weather itself a threat for people with asthma, but winter months often mean staying indoors more often. Many individuals with asthma have indoor triggers, too, such as dust mites and mold.
Spending more time indoors exposed to allergens can trigger your asthma. If you have indoor allergies, get ready for winter by taking some proactive steps, such as using HEPA filters in your home to cut down on allergens or using dust mite covers for your pillows and mattress if you have a dust mite allergy.
For individuals with asthma, winter isn’t the time to leave home underdressed. Keeping yourself warm helps reduce your risk of asthma flares. It's wise to bundle up based on outside temperatures. During winter months, wear a warm coat, scarf, hat, and gloves.
It also helps to cover your mouth and nose with your scarf or a mask. Doing so helps warm the cold air as you inhale, which lowers your risk of irritating your airway.
Avoid mouth breathing
Some people breathe through their mouths out of habit. However, if you have asthma, it's important that you breathe through your nose when the temperatures are cold outside. Breathing through your mouth during cold weather allows the cold air to rush into your lungs, which can trigger an asthma attack.
When you breathe in air through your nostrils, structures in your nose humidify and warm the air as it moves through the nasal cavity. Because the air is then warmer when it reaches your lungs, the risk of irritating your airway is lower.
Follow a winter asthma management plan
Preparation is key to managing your asthma most effectively during cold weather months. Work closely with your provider to create an asthma plan for the winter.
In addition to following your winter asthma plan, it's also a good idea to schedule regular checkups. This gives your provider the opportunity to monitor you and ensure that your treatment is working and that your asthma is well controlled during the winter.
To learn more about the best strategies for managing asthma in winter, give us a call to schedule a visit with Dr. Kage, or book online today.