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.
December 7, 2017
Allergies, Asthma, Breathe EZ, Children's Health, Men's Health, Women's Health
, Exercise and Sports
We hear all the time from multiple sources to get more exercise. Everyone has their reasons for not getting enough. We all know we should do it more, but feel like we don’t have enough time or energy to do so. If you suffer from asthma, you may fear that working out would make your symptoms worse. Here are some of the best options for exercising with asthma
Exercising with Asthma: Best Exercises
- Walking – can actually improve one’s asthma symptoms if done long term and on a regular basis. It is recommended that asthma patients walk three times per week. Remember to warm up and cool down just like with any other exercise.
- Yoga – allows us to control our breathing, which is beneficial for asthmatics because it can activate more areas of the lung.
- Biking – with the right pace, this is a great way to get your activity in and your stress level down.
- Golfing – the staggered activity of alternating swings with walking is great for keeping symptoms at bay, but be sure to check the pollen levels before heading out to the course.
- Running – keep your distance short and your pace moderate.
- Downhill Skiing — as long as you don’t try to tackle one of those black diamond slopes, this outdoor activity doesn’t require a lot of physical exertion, as the mountain does most of the work.
- Swimming – provided the pool doesn’t contain too much chlorine, the highly humidified, warm air breathed in while swimming can loosen mucus.
Exercising with Asthma: Best Sports
- Baseball – allows for breaks in activity to keep symptoms in check. Take a hit on your inhaler as needed while sitting in the dugout waiting to bat.
- Racquet sports – the players control the pace of the game, allowing for plenty of rest and water breaks.
- Softball – similar to baseball, players have adequate rest to hydrate, use their inhaler, and regroup.
- Volleyball – A little more intense, but the court is small, so players can move quickly in short bursts.
- Football – while sometimes annoying to spectators, this sport allows for many breaks between downs.
Activities such as cross-country skiing, basketball, and soccer are a bit too strenuous for asthmatics. Cross-country skiing can dry out the airways with the cold air being a contributing factor. Basketball requires too much running up and down the court while not providing enough rest time between plays. Soccer players are in constant motion chasing the ball unless they are a goaltender.
Exercising in a way that works for you is great way to destress, which, in turn, can help keep your asthma symptoms from flaring up. Always remember to consult your doctor before starting a new exercise program. Keep your water bottle and inhaler with you at all times. And remember, exercise should also be something you enjoy.
Additional Resources for Exercising with Asthma
Check out our previous exercise-related blogs for more information:
Regular, Moderate Exercise Improves Asthma Symptoms
Don’t Wheeze Your Way Through Exercise-Induced Asthma