Here's what you need to know about your asthma during winter

Do you notice your asthma flaring up during colder months? Here's what you need to know and do to keep it in control.

Here's what you need to know about your asthma during winter
© Ariel Skelley
Here's what you need to know about your asthma during winter

Having asthma attacks any time of the year sucks, but having asthma attacks because of the cold or heat, is just the worst. I don’t know about you, but I was pretty excited for the unbearable heat to go away and comfy socks and sweater time to kick in. It seems like not everyone is looking forward to colder temperatures.

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According to a study published in the International Journal of Circumpolar Health, 82% of people in Finland who suffered from asthma, reported shortness of breath during colder months.

How does cold air trigger asthma?

Cold air can trigger an asthmatic episode as it makes the internal muscles spasm while also trying to keep airways open. This, in turn, irritates the airways and causes coughing and shortness of breath. However, not everyone with asthma gets affected by cold air the same way. Obviously, those with more severe asthma will likely be affected more.

So, should I just stay in then?

This is a tricky one. A double-edged sword. Going out in the cold triggers asthma as we explained, but so does staying in. This is because when you stay in, you are more exposed to indoor allergens such as dust, mold, pet dander, or even cigarette smoke if you live with a smoker. Never catching a break, huh?

So, should I just stay in then? Natalia Gdovskaia

What can I do?

Healthlinerecommends keeping your mouth and nose covered when you first go out in the cold air, to slowly acclimate your airways. No matter what, always keep your inhaler with you and use it at the first sign of an asthma attack. Although staying indoors can trigger asthma attacks too as explained above, it is still recommended to breathe warmer air – that is if it is allergen-free. To ensure that, keep your cooling and heating air duct filters clean and if needed, replace them as often as possible.

If you are experiencing severe asthma symptoms, book an appointment with your doctor and discuss a long-term asthma action plan.

Disclaimer: The contents of this article: text, graphics, images, and other materials contained, are strictly for informational purposes only. The content is not intended to be used as a substitute for professional medical diagnosis, advice, or treatment. Please always seek the advice of a qualified health provider with all the questions that you have related to, or about, a medical condition.

Sources used:

International Journal of Circumpolar Health: 'Cold air-provoked respiratory symptoms: the mechanisms and management'

Healthline: 'How to Treat Asthma Triggered by Cold Weather'

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