To many people who work outdoors and even those who don’t, winter can be a time of discomfort and coping with a number of different cold weather-induced conditions. One of the more common reasons clients contact us around this time of year revolves around the weather and its intensifying effects on their conditions. While many conditions seem more manageable during the warmer months, some conditions can make work unbearable when the thermometer drops. Today, I’m going to talk about weather-induced asthma and how to try to cope with this condition during cold weather.
When dealing with your cold-weather asthma attacks, the first goal is to pinpoint what triggers these attacks. There are four common causes of cold-weather asthma:
- Cold air: The main cause of weather-induced asthma is the most obvious, the cold air itself. As the cold air enters your lungs, it can restrict air passageways and cause asthma sufferers to go into an attack. We’ve heard many stories of clients who have these types of attacks and find that even their emergency inhalers do not provide much relief. There are a couple of different ways to minimize your exposure in this way. You can wear a scarf or other covering over your mouth and nose to warm the air you breath. Don’t exercise or perform other cardio-intensive activities outdoors, if you can avoid it. Finally, stay compliant with your medicine regimen and always make sure to keep your emergency inhaler within reach.
- Chimney smoke: Smoke is a common asthma trigger, and the use of fireplaces, even those around your neighborhood, exacerbates an already existing problem. There is no easy solution to this problem. You can avoid smoke in your house by using alternative heating methods and by avoiding being outside during times when the smoke is particularly bad.
- Illnesses and infections: Wintertime is a common time to get ill, and research has shown that a common trigger of asthma attacks can be viral. If you’re experiencing any illnesses that includes symptoms such as nasal congestion, runny nose, sneezing, swollen throat, wheezing, or painful coughing, you should immediately see a doctor to avoid the complication of an asthma attack. A good piece of advice is to get a flu shot at the beginning of the season to lessen your risk of contracting a more serious illness that will greatly increase the severity of any asthma attacks.
- Indoor air quality: During the winter months, people tend to stay indoors more, especially if they’re sick. However, sufferers of asthma know all too well the problems that poor indoor air quality can cause. Lack of circulation, pollen from Christmas trees, dust from annual decorations, and more time spent indoors expose these individuals to allergens that can cause attacks and other discomfort. Allergens can include mold, mildew, pet dander, and dust mites. Luckily, there are ways to mitigate these allergens and lessen their effects. Make sure to regularly clean surfaces that may be harboring dust or mildew. Using a high-quality air filtration system can help reduce pollen and dust mites – as well as dusting.
Some people think of winter as a time when respiratory-based condition sufferers get a respite, but this is usually not the case. It’s important to be vigilant in your treatment and make sure your surroundings are set up for you to succeed and improve your condition on a daily basis. While there is no cure for weather-induced asthma, combining your physician’s treatment recommendations with the common sense tips above will help you get through the winter with fewer major incidents.
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