If you are suffering from asthma, you might already know how uncomfortable and hard it is.
Now add to that, winter or cold-induced asthma can literally make life so much more uncomfortable, make breathing a strenuous task.
If you are wondering what winter-induced asthma is or how to deal with it, read on to find out everything about it.
What is winter-induced asthma?
It means exactly that, asthma that is triggered or worsened due to the chilly winter season. More often than not, if you are already suffering from asthma, the onset of the winter season will deteriorate your asthma situation.
It will worsen your symptoms like wheezing, coughing, and shortness of breath.
What is the relation between cold and asthma?
When we breathe in, our nose and mouth usually humidifies the air and sends in the warm air.
During the winters, the dry and chilly air is not adequately warmed. This dry and chilly air enters the airways in the lungs and eventually tightens it, and causes spasms and asthma attacks, usually in the form of coughing. This is known as a cold-induced or cold triggered asthma attack.
It is more prevalent during the winters as the air is usually dry, devoid of any moisture, and chilly.
This situation is common when you tend to spend more time outside or while working out during winters.
For example, if you have the habit of running outdoors, you usually breathe fast and breathe in through your mouth than from your nose. As the mouth does not effectively warm the air like the nose, you inhale the cold dry air, leading to an asthma attack.
The dry cold air makes you produce a kind of substance called histamine, which is usually produced during an allergy attack. As a result, it causes wheezing and other asthma-related symptoms.
This also makes you develop more mucus in your airways than normal, ultimately making you catch a cold or infection easily.
Other symptoms of it include pain or tightness in the chest, shortness of breath, and coughing. These symptoms usually subside as you move to a warmer environment. However, they last longer in people with severe asthma.
Other factors triggering asthma
Other than the dry cold air, there are many other factors that can trigger an asthma attack. Some of them are:
- Smoking tobacco
- Stress and anxiety
- Bacterial and viral infections
- Dust and allergens
- Powerful scents
- Extreme workouts
What to do during an asthma attack?
If you sense that you are having an asthma attack due to the cold air or otherwise, the first thing to do is to use your inhaler to loosen your airways. Do remember to have your inhaler on your person at all times during the winter season.
After using the inhaler, move to a warmer environment and relax. As time goes, the symptoms will start to subside, making it easier for you to breathe.
If you notice that you increasingly facing this issue or if your workouts are causing your attacks more often than usual, let your health provider know about it. Your doctor will prescribe you appropriate medication to bring it under control.
How to prevent asthma attacks during the winter?
Other than taking your medication regularly, there are few preventive measures you can take to reduce or prevent asthma attacks during the winter.
Try not to step out in the cold: If you are already aware that the cold air will trigger an asthma attack, the best preventive step you can take is to avoid stepping out in the cold as much as you can. Only step out if it is absolutely necessary after following the below tips.
Warm-up: It is an effective step to prevent a cold-induced asthma attack. Warm up your body before stepping out of your home. You may warm your body by doing any short bouts of exercises like high-knees or jumping jacks or simply dancing will also do. Do this for about 5-10 minutes before you step out.
Use your inhaler: If you are aware that you need to step out, use your inhaler beforehand to prevent any cold-induced asthma attacks. You may use it 10-15 minutes before going out.\
Cover your nose and mouth: It goes without saying that you need to cover your nose and mouth with warm clothing before stepping out. Just warp a woolen or any other scarf around your nose, mouth, and neck to keep yourselves warm.
Breath through your nose: In spite of doing the above, try concentrating your breathing through your nose instead of your mouth. As mentioned above, breathing through your nose will warm the air before sending it through your airways, reducing the chances of a cold-induced asthma attack.
While developing a cold-induced asthma attack during the winters is common, it can be extremely uncomfortable and dangerous for people with a severe asthmatic condition. In such cases, we highly recommend checking with a doctor.