Winter can be a rough time of year for everyone. People living with Asthma can often have it worse than the rest of us. During the winter, the air is often cold and dry, accompanied by rapid shifts in weather that can irritate the airways. This irritation leads to the generation of more mucus. Even staying indoors can cause its own host of problems, as flu and cold are more common this time of year. Being confined with friends, family, or coworkers suffering these conditions increases the likelihood of catching them.
Why Winter Conditions Often Contribute To Asthma Flare-Ups
All the conditions mentioned above can significantly increase flare-ups and make it harder to control severe asthma symptoms. We’re going to go into more detail on those factors and some of the others that can aggravate asthma in winter below:
- Dry Outside Air: Just as cold, dry air can irritate your skin, it can impact the functioning of your lungs. Your airways are kept moist by a layer of fluid that can dry out in the presence of arid air. Without this liquid coating, your lungs can become irritated and inflamed.
- Respiratory Illness: In addition to this layer of liquid, mucus coats your airways. This mucus can thicken in the presence of cold air, making it easier to contract respiratory infections. These infections can cause your airways to become irritated and swollen, triggering asthma symptoms.
- Exercise: To counteract the more sedentary nature of the winter season, many people will try to compensate by getting more exercise. Unfortunately, exercise requires your body to consume more oxygen, leading to rapid breathing. If dry outside air and cold can irritate your lungs under normal conditions, this rapid exchange of air can make it happen more quickly.
In addition to asthma attacks being more common in the winter, they may also appear with different symptoms. Symptoms are often worse than those experienced in warmer months and can happen more often. Some common signs that can signal a pending attack include:
- Shortness of Breath
- Chest Pain
- Tightness in the Chest
The most proactive thing you can do during the winter is take steps to prevent an attack. One of the first steps you can take is to stay focused on keeping hydrated. Water is best, but warm broth-based soups and tea can help offset the dry cold of winter. Be certain that you keep your hands clean with frequent washing, and wear gloves when you go out. Breathing through your nose when outdoors can help as well, as it moistens the air before it enters your lungs. Perhaps most importantly, be sure to get your flu vaccine.
Contact Your Asthma Specialist For Additional Guidance
If you’re struggling with managing your asthma during the winter, it’s time to reach out to your specialist. They’ll help you develop strategies for addressing your symptoms and for preventing the onset of an attack. Together you’ll find ways to make the winter months more enjoyable by helping you breathe easier until the warm seasons come again.