Why Asthma Can Be Worse in Winter and Steps to Manage Attacks

Asthma is the tightening of the bronchial tubes, the airways that lead to your lungs. Asthma attacks are generally characterized by wheezing, coughing, and chest pain, which can cause your heart to speed up.  

The difficulty breathing, noise, and discomfort stem from your air passages’ response to a trigger, or triggers. Exercises and allergies are two of the most common triggers for an asthma attack, but cold weather could also be a culprit. If you’ve noticed that your asthma is worse in winter, there are several things that you can do to protect yourself. 

Central Jersey Family Physicians is dedicated to practicing and providing the best care for your and your family. Part of our practice is teaching you how to take care of yourself and providing the tools you need to stay strong and healthy. Here, we address winter asthma attacks.

What causes winter asthma attacks?

It’s the dryness in the air during winter, rather than the cold itself, that irritates and worsens asthma symptoms. A chill in the air can dry out the fine layer of sticky mucus that coats and protects your airways.

When this happens, your airways, including your bronchial tubes, can easily become irritated. Because the likelihood of an asthma attack rises as temperatures drop, it’s good to be aware of your best options to prevent an asthma attack.  

How can I prevent a winter asthma attack? 

Asthma attacks in winter tend to be severe and sometimes require hospitalization. Protect yourself and your family with a few basic tips.

Breathe through your nose

As silly as this might sound, this basic step can protect your delicate bronchial tubes. Breathing through your mouth takes the chill in the air directly to your bronchial tubes, drying them out more quickly. Breathing through your nose warms the air, making it easier for your breathing passages to stay healthy and moist. 

Exercise indoors

Staying indoors during winter is important to anyone’s health, but it’s especially important for people living with asthma. Exercising is good treatment for the condition overall, but with irritating cold air, exercise outdoors should be done very carefully. If you’re willing to swap a treadmill for a run in the park, you can maintain a healthy habit with less worry about asthma attacks.

Take your medication

If you live with chronic asthma attacks, this isn’t news to you, but it’s especially important to take your asthma medication as directed by your doctors at Central Jersey Family Physicians. This helps your bronchial tubes stay open, or dilated, for easy breathing. Make sure you take your inhaler with you everywhere you go, too.

Cover your mouth and nose when walking outside

You can’t always help the need to walk around in cold or inclement weather, especially living in New Jersey. But do yourself a favor and keep the worst of the cold air out of your breathing passages with a scarf. If scarves aren’t your style, try to wear a sweater you can pull up over your nose when outside. 

Warm up before you go out

Spending a few minutes warming up before you go out is an easy step to take if you want to prevent a cold-bourne asthma attack. Do a few jumping jacks, run in place for a minute, or just walk around the room with your coat on. This gets your blood flowing and helps you stay warm once the cold hits.   

Use a humidifier

You’d be surprised how dry the air can become during winter, even in homes with central heat. A humidifier can ease the dryness of the air in your home, making it even easier for your bronchial tubes to stay moist. If you come down with a cold or flu, a humidifier could be the difference between a comfortable night’s sleep and a night of tossing and turning while coughing. 

Taking care of yourself when living with chronic asthma can be challenging during the colder months, but with help from Central Jersey Family Physicians and a little conscientiousness, you can make it through. Call our office to schedule an appointment so we can answer your asthma questions and help you live a safer, more comfortable life.

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