Asthma and cold weather

5 ways to feel better when the chill is on

Chilly weather may be more foe than friend when you have asthma.

That’s because cold, dry air may irritate the airways in your lungs, potentially making asthma worse. The result can be more wheezing, coughing and shortness of breath.

Try these tips to help ease winter wheezing and other symptoms:

1. Take your meds. Do you use long-term control medicines? Take them as directed by your asthma action plan. They may help reduce the swelling in your airways that causes asthma to flare.

2. Keep your rescue inhaler handy. You’ll want to use it if you need to quickly treat a cold-weather asthma attack.

3. Move it inside. Skip outdoor exercise when temps are really low — opt for indoor workouts instead. It’s also good to check the air-quality report — and plan outdoor activities accordingly.

4. Cover up. Loosely wrap a scarf around your nose and mouth when heading out in the cold. This will help warm the chilly air as you breathe it in — making it less likely to irritate your lungs.

5. Put out the flames. Smoke from wood stoves and fireplaces may trigger asthma troubles. So if possible, consider other ways to heat your home.


What to do next

Talk with your doctor about your symptoms. If they’re worsening with the weather, you may need changes to your asthma action plan, your medicine or both.

A severe asthma attack is an emergency. A minor one may not be. So get to know your asthma action plan. It may help you tell the difference — and know what to do in either case. 

Sources

American Lung Association; National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute