Winter Weather Advisory – Cold Air and Asthma

 

Dry and/or cold air is a trigger for airway narrowing (bronchoconstriction) and can be a weather-related asthma trigger. When you breathe in cold, dry air through your mouth, the air doesn't get warmed by your nose first. The cold air goes to your lungs and airways. This can trigger an asthma attack. Breathing through your mouth is more likely when you exercise or exert yourself – such as shoveling snow or skiing.

Follow these steps for reducing your chances of having asthma symptoms triggered by cold air:

  • Wear a scarf or face mask over your mouth.
  • If you normally exercise outdoors, consider an indoor sport for the winter, like swimming or basketball.
  • If you do need to be outdoors in cold weather, you may need to use your quick-relief inhaler before you go outdoors. Talk with your doctor about a pretreatment plan.
  • Always carry your quick-relief inhaler with you and protect it from cold temperatures.

Knowing how to manage your asthma can reduce missed work days, reduce or prevent hospitalizations and allow you to do more of the activities you enjoy. Learn more about managing your asthma with our free ASTHMA (Asthma Symptoms, Treatment, Health Management and Activities™) Care for Adults program today.

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Asthma is a chronic disease and asthma triggers can change with the seasons. If you are experiencing more asthma symptoms this winter, but sure check with your doctor to review your Asthma Action Plan. Symptoms include:

  • Coughing
  • Wheezing (a whistling, squeaky sound when you breathe)
  • Shortness of breath
  • Rapid breathing
  • Chest tightness



Updated December 2018

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Comments (11)

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I am new here and new to allergic asthma. I have had allergies all my life, but asthma for only a year or so. I am trying to find some helpful information about some practical things I can do to manage my symptoms. The doctor gave me the diagnosis, but I am left on my own to figure out how to live with it. I am glad to find this community.

All things that are difficult to avoid!

As for the asthma plan, I'd push back on the pulmonologist for one. If need be, print out the one on the site here and ask him to fill it out. No need to reinvent the wheel.

In this article it talks about the possibility of "cold dry air" causing an asthma attack.  Does this also apply to cold "moist "air as I live in Nova Scotia, Canada and am surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean

I just bought several great mufflers/scarves so I can walk outside in cold weather without symptoms of cold weather affecting my lungs.  I bought the Octr Mistral Skube, which is sold at ski shops.  It is a light nylon tube that has elastic and a cord so it can tightened around the nose.  It doesn't fall down like an ordinary scarf.

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