The winter season can affect the respiratory system and aggravate respiratory diseases like asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Breathing in cold air can irritate the airway and trigger symptoms like breathlessness, coughing, and mucus production. There are many reasons why asthma symptoms may get worse in the winter.
One is that we spend more time inside and may breathe in air containing triggers such as mold, pet dander, dust mites, and even fires in the fireplace. If we venture out, there is a chance to get exposed to cold air, which may exacerbate asthma symptoms. To make the situation worse, there is an increase in respiratory infections like colds and flu, which may further lead to asthma attacks.
Tips for asthma patients to stay safe in winter
Prevention is the best strategy to tackle asthma. Here are a few tips to keep complications at bay this winter:
1. Hydration is key
Drink a lot of fluids to keep yourself hydrated. In winter, people tend to restrict fluid intake, which may harm their lungs. Also, eat nutritious food to keep yourself healthy and protects yourself against respiratory infections.
2. Keep your hands clean
Hand hygiene is one of the best ways to protect yourself. Wash hands with soap and water to prevent respiratory illnesses, such as colds and flu.
3. Cover yourself properly
Always keep yourself covered, especially while going out. Keep a scarf, gloves, and an extra jacket with you, just in case there is a sudden dip in temperature. This would make sure that you are not left gasping for air when it’s too cold.
4. Try to breathe through your nose
Winter is the flu season that can trigger and even exacerbate asthma symptoms. It is better to breathe through your nose when you’re outside as nasal passages moisten the air before it moves into your lungs.
5. Get vaccinated and take medicines
Be ready for the season by getting your recommended vaccination against influenza, pneumonia, and COVID-19.
Continue taking your asthma medication as prescribed by your doctor. Don’t miss them or stop them on your own even if you are not having symptoms as these medicines will protect you from getting flare-ups. It’s important to carry your medication with you at all times.
6. Avoid scented products
Avoid using scented products like candles, cleaning supplies, or laundry products, as asthma attacks can be triggered, if you are exposed to the smell. Also, take precautions while you are in the kitchen, as sudden fume, smoke, or strong smell may also trigger asthma. You should also avoid open fires, and wood-burning stoves as smoke can cause much harm.
7. Don’t spend too much time with your pets
Limit time around pets as having a dog or cat in your home may trigger your asthma. Try to keep it out of the bedroom as far as possible.
8. Look out for dust mites
Dust mites present on carpets and mattresses may trigger asthma. Use mite-proof covers on the mattress, box springs, and pillows if possible. Keep the house cool and dry as dust mites and mould don’t grow very well when it’s cool and dry. Other tips to keep your home safe are
- Running the fan in the bathroom to dry the walls and floor
- Use the exhaust fan in the kitchen
- Fix leaky pipes and windows to avoid dampness
Infections like the common cold, cough, and flu are more common during the winter months. It also makes those around you more susceptible to cold and cough due to the aerosol that is released when you cough. Stay away from people who are coughing or suffering from respiratory infections. Also, take appropriate measures