North Carolina is typically known for its mild winters. 2018 looks to be off to a very chilly start!
People who suffer from asthma may be caught off guard when the weather forecast turns unusually cold. As with most things, preparation is the key to keeping asthma under control.
Cold Air = Increased Lung Inflammation
When you step outside and take a deep breath in cold air – it’s shocking – you feel like you can’t take a deep breath. While breathing in cold air can be uncomfortable for anyone, people who suffer from asthma need to be more cautious.
Cold air can shock the lungs of people with asthma. This shock can cause inflammation – which may lead to an asthma attack. Breathing can become more challenging since cold air also constricts airways. While those with asthma may be able to tolerate breathing in cold air for a few minutes, exercising outside could be dangerous.
Don’t forget that cold winter air is also drier, another potential airway irritant for those who suffer from asthma. Wind can also stir up more dust and other allergens.
Minimize the impact of Cold Weather
- Consider exercising indoors. If you do exercise outdoors make sure to warm up properly.
- Take your asthma medication 10 to 15 minutes prior to heading outside into the cold air.
- Wear a scarf or a mask over your nose and mouth when outdoors to help warm the air entering your lungs. Mom was right, dress in layers and wear a hat!
- On days where extremely cold temperatures are in the forecast plan to minimize the time you spend outside.
Remember that spending more time indoors can increase your exposure to the many indoor allergens and asthma triggers. Dampness and mold are two common indoor asthma triggers. Adding some indoor humidity can help keep nasal passages from drying out, but watch for signs of too much humidity like mold and mildew.
In general, the winter is cold and flu season. Encourage children to cover their mouths and noses when they cough or sneeze. Frequent hand washing and avoiding those who are sick can help everyone stay healthy and happy this winter.