Why Asthma is Worse in Winter: For Asthma sufferers, winter can be the most difficult time of the year. Sudden changes in the weather and dry, cold air can irritate your respiratory tract, leading to an increase in mucus production.  Being inside doesn’t always help because staying inside might exacerbate respiratory conditions like the flu and colds. All things considered, the winter months may be a formula for asthma flare-ups, resulting in excruciating symptoms that may spiral out of hand.

Most Asthma sufferers know exactly what their triggers are- illness, environmental allergies, or temperature changes, and many report their symptoms ramp up during the winter months. You don’t have to endure through the entire season, though. Learn about easy things you may do to prevent your symptoms when the weather becomes cold. If you ever need immediate care, simply consult with Dr. Sheetu Singh, she trained to evaluate and treat Asthma attacks in both children and adults. 

Why is Asthma Worse in the Colder Months?

There are several reasons why wintertime asthma symptoms could worsen. It’s likely due to one or more of the following:

  • Dry Outside Air: Your lungs airways are shielded by a liquid layer. The fluid layer evaporating in the cold air causes irritation and inflammation in your airways.
  • Respiratory Illness: Your airways also have a protective layer of mucus. This coating of mucus can thicken in the cold, increasing your risk of respiratory infections such as the flu or common cold. These infections may lead to swelling and irritation of your airways, which trigger Asthma symptoms. 
  • Exercise: A walk in the park is healthy, right? Yes, but activity demands a larger capacity for the lungs. Breathing in cold air while walking can cause constriction of your airways, leading to symptoms like dyspnea and cough.

Why is Winter Worse for Those with Asthma?

Cold weather is a typical and well-known trigger for Asthma. For someone with asthma, breathing in dry, cold air will irritate their lung lining and result in spasms. Additionally, the lungs and nasal cavities create more mucus in cold air, which results in coughing and the formation of phlegm. Furthermore, wintertime usually means an increase in respiratory viruses, all of which can be asthma triggers. Additionally, asthmatic patients have been particularly heavily struck by the rise in COVID-19, RSV, flu, and common cold infections this year. While it might seem like staying inside is the answer, that is a short-term solution. You are exposed to more allergens than you realize indoors from mold, dust mites, and dampness to dry, forced air from heating systems and pet allergens. 

Are Asthma Symptoms Different in the Winter than in Other Months?

The symptoms of asthma throughout the winter are identical to those during the summer. The distinction is that during the winter, you might notice that the symptoms are worse than normal, harder to manage, or happen more frequently. Look for: 

  • Coughing.
  • Chest Pain.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Wheezing.
  • Tightness in the chest.

What are the Some Tips on Preventing Asthma Attacks Triggered by Cold Weather?

If you have asthma, you are already aware that the best course of action is preventive. Go back to the basics:

  • To stay hydrated, consume lots of water, broth-based soups, and decaffeinated tea. 
  • Wash your hands often in water and soap to prevent respiratory illnesses such as the flu or cold.
  • Dress warmly when you go out. Keep gloves, a scarf, and an extra jacket in your vehicle just in case.
  • When you’re outside, inhale via your nose. The air is warmed by your nasal passages before entering your lungs.
  •  Get the flu vaccine, which will lower your risk of getting this year flu.
  • Always keep your inhaler close at hand.
  • If you typically work out outside, look for other places to work out. Verify that there is adequate air circulation in the area where you exercise.
  • When not in use, attempt to keep any indoor fireplaces empty. Stay away from outdoor firepits or take a comfortable seat away.
  • Use a humidifier indoors, especially at night when you sleep.
  • Do not skip your daily dose, or keep up with your Asthma medications and refill them.

What Type of Treatments may be Given for Uncontrolled Asthma Symptoms?

You could have additional symptoms like anxiety, a racing heartbeat, and rapid breathing while your asthma is at its worst. You may be given treatments such as Bronchodilators and oxygen therapy. These are medications that facilitate better breathing and widen airways. Steroids might also be administered to you to reduce the inflammation in your airways.

Are There More Advanced Treatments for Severe Uncontrolled Asthma Symptoms? 

Biologics are medications used in advanced asthma therapies that are derived from natural sources. These drugs help by reducing your body’s reaction to Asthma triggers and controlling inflammation. Bronchial Thermoplasty can be a possibility if steroids or other treatments are not working to control your asthma. Dr. Sheetu Singh uses an electrode to heat the inside of your airways. This process helps relax the airways to assist you in breathing more easier.

5 Ways to Avoid Asthma Attacks During Cold Weather

If you live on the East Coast and have asthma, you probably already know how the cold affects your asthma symptoms. The daytime highs in Connecticut are often around 30°F, making winters there somewhat cold. 

  1. Understanding Cold Weather and Asthma Symptoms: Asthma sufferers have sensitive bronchial tubes that are stimulated by several stimuli, including cold air. When the outdoor temperature drops and you inhale cold air, it can irritate the lining of your airways and cause symptoms such as wheezing, coughing and shortness of breath. Winter is a more likely season to cause flare-ups for asthmatic individuals than other seasons.
  2. Limit Indoor Triggers: Asthma sufferers face not only the actual cold but also the added challenge of spending more time indoors throughout the winter. If you suffer from indoor allergies, take preventative measures in advance of winter, such as installing HEPA filters to reduce allergens in your house or, if you have a dust mite allergy, covering your pillows and mattress with dust mite coverings. 
  3. Keep Warm: For individuals with Asthma, winter isn’t the time to leave home undressed. Asthma flare-ups can be prevented by staying warm. Depending on the outside temperature, it makes sense to bundle up. During winter months, wear a scarf, hat, warm coat, and gloves. Wearing a mask or scarf over your mouth and nose can also be helpful. 
  4. Avoid Mouth Breathing: Some people have a propensity to breath via their mouths. But when it’s cold outside, you must breathe through your nose if you have asthma. Breathing through your mouth during cold weather allows the cold air to rush into your lungs, which can trigger an Asthma attack. The nasal cavity’s structures warm and humidify the air as it passes through when you breathe in via your nostrils.
  5. Follow a Winter Asthma Management Plan: The best way to manage your asthma during the winter months is to be prepared. Create a winter asthma plan in close collaboration with your provider. In addition to following your winter Asthma plan, it’s also a good idea to have regular checkups. 

Dr. Sheetu Singh, a nationally renowned pulmonologist, Director ILD & Pulmonary Rehab Clinic, is an expert in chest-related conditions. She got her training from SMS Medical College, Jaipur followed by a visit to Cleveland Clinic, USA.

Contact Info

Address: Mahavir Jaipuriya Rajasthan Hospital Milap Nagar, JLN Marg, Jaipur

Mobile: (+91)-8696666380

Email-Id: sheetusingh@yahoo.co.in

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