The coldest part of the year is here, and there are new challenges for your lungs. In this blog, you’ll find three tips to help you understand why cold weather can make asthma worse and three tips to keep asthma in check through the winter.
1. Avoid exercises that make you breathe hard and fast
Cold, dry air makes your airways constrict (get narrower). It’s normal for lungs to react to cold air by narrowing, but when you have asthma, this extra bit of tightness in airways can make an attack more likely. What really helps is avoiding exercises that make you breathe hard and fast when the temperature is close to or below freezing. Try exercising in an inside environment or wait until the cold snap is over. When outside, a scarf covering the mouth and nose will help make the air you breathe warmer and more humid.
2. Indoor air can be worse than outdoor air
We think of air pollution as a summer problem, but winter brings challenges too. With our windows sealed and doors shut, indoor air can become polluted with dust, exhaust from gas, oil, or wood heat, and our own and our pets’ dander. Indoor air can be two to five times as polluted as outdoor air. Often, home heat creates very dry air that is hard on airways. In wet areas, mold can be a problem as well.
Ways to make your home a safe haven: Your furnace needs high-quality air filters changed regularly. Asthma and allergy-certified air purifiers can make a difference, too. Wood stove heat makes leaves a lot of irritating smoke in the air, so use another way to heat if you have a choice. Make sure gas and oil furnaces are vented to the outside. If your air is dry, consider using a store-bought humidifier to add moisture. If damp air is letting mold grow, you may need a dehumidifier.
3. Try to avoid getting colds and flus
Winter is cold and flu season. We’re all inside celebrating holidays and passing around germs! With asthma, an infection that causes harm to the parts of the body that are already at risk, airways, adds a lot of risk for more asthma symptoms and attacks.
Ways to not get sick: Regular handwashing, not touching your face, and staying out of places where there are sick people are the best options. Getting a yearly flu shot and a COVID shot does a lot to both protect from those illnesses and if you do get either flu or COVID, recovery can be much easier. If you’re sick, call your provider since medication can change.
Living with asthma means learning that staying a step ahead of the things that make breathing harder or triggers. Preparation is the key to being healthy at home, year-round. Always take your medication as prescribed, even if you feel fine, and remember to carry your rescue inhaler with you. Your Scene nurse wants to help you understand how your asthma can be better and help you live a more carefree life, you can call, or chat to your care team through the app. For more information, go here.