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Tips to Breathe Easier During the Colder Months

As the winter months continue, so do the cold and flu virus. For those living with asthma, the colder months can be an especially taxing time of year since catching the common cold or simply breathing in the colder air can trigger an asthma attack. 

Have you heard someone living with arthritis say they can feel it in their bones when it’s about to rain? Well, often times those living with asthma also have a sense for when the weather is changing because they feel it in their lungs.

What Causes Asthma?

Although asthma symptom triggers vary from person to person, the most common triggers typically include:       

  • Air pollution
  • Seasonal weather changes
  • Smoking
  • Pollen physical activity
  • Stress and anxiety

Once you recognize the factors that trigger your asthma symptoms, it’s important to avoid them whenever possible.

Why Does Cold Weather Make Asthma Worse?

There are several reasons why winter is problematic for those living with asthma. The two main challenges for those living with asthma during the colder months are:

  1. They spend more time inside- when you’re indoors, you are constantly breathing in asthma triggers such as mold, pet dander, dust and fires in the fireplace.
  2. The colder air outdoors- the cold air can cause an asthmatic’s lungs to tighten up, creating an asthma attack.

Ways to Help Make Winter Easier on Your Asthma

  1. Wash your hands often with warm, soapy water is one of the simplest ways to avoid spreading or catching the common cold and other viruses. Emphasizing to your children and grandchildren the practice of thorough hand washing can even further reduce the risk of spreading germs around the house.
  2. Replace filters at the start of winter prior to turning on your home heating system, otherwise the heater may blow dust and debris throughout the house making it likely to trigger an asthma attack. Don’t forget to clean and check the filters periodically throughout the winter season to avoid debris build up.
  3. Avoid sitting too close to the fireplace to help avoid inhaling smoke which in turn can irritate your lungs-leading to a potential asthma attack.
  4. Get a flu shot as recommended from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Having asthma doesn’t make you more prone to the flu, but if you do get the flue, the results can be more serious.
  5. Avoid exercising outside and instead, choose to work out at home or in a gym. Our lungs function better in the warmer weather whereas cold air can cause spasms to the lung airways, making it harder to breathe.
  6. Don’t forget to take your medications when your asthma symptoms worsen during the colder months. Talk freely with your doctor or asthma specialist about changing the medications you currently take if asthma symptoms continue to flare up.