5 Ways to Manage Asthma in the Winter Months

Seasonal temperatures need to be taken into account for many health conditions - whether medication needs to be stored differently or symptoms react in certain conditions. If you have asthma, winter weather could mean an increase in asthma attacks. Of course, your asthma medication such as the Albuterol inhaler will help minimize any wheezing and constriction in your airways and lungs. Even though effective medication is vital to treating asthma, it always helps to minimize your exposure to known irritants. Here are some practical reminders you can consider on how to keep your asthma flare-ups as infrequent as possible for the next few months.

Perhaps you have had asthma most of your life, or tended to experience seasonal allergies in the spring but recently started having reactions in the winter too. This could be a sign that you can look into common winter-related asthma triggers that you are sensitive to, just as dust mites and smoke from fireplaces. Here are some 5 practical tips you can consider in the winter to help manage your asthma.

  1. Bedding. You spend a third of your day in bed, so make sure your sleeping area is an asthma-friendly zone. You can do this by washing your bedding at least every other week, and protecting from dust mites by using dust, mite and allergen proof covers on your pillows and mattress. Vacuuming and washing your curtains may also help keep your bedroom dust-free.
  2. Breathe Through Your Nose. In general, but especially when you are outside, make the effort to breathe through your nose instead of your mouth. Doing so helps to naturally warm up your breath so that your lungs won't be irritated by the harshness of cold dry outdoor air. You can also warm and humidify inhaled air by wearing a face mask, or keeping your nose and mouth covered with winter accessories like a scarf.
  3. Outdoor Tips. Where do you spend most of your time in the winter? It helps to exercise indoors, but if it is important to you to maintain an outdoor lifestyle in the winter, then you can do so with more ease by planning ahead. Warming up the car before you get in, using your inhaler half an hour before going out, and keeping fast-acting medication on you in case of an outdoor reaction are all great if you have asthma but will be out and about often.
  4. Indoor Tips. For those who enjoy or are able to spend more of their winter days indoors, make your space asthma-friendly. Make sure your filters for your heating system have been replaced so that you aren't circulating dusty or moldy air. If you like sitting by your fireplace, you may want to keep this to a minimum since the smoky air is an irritant. It may feel counter-intuitive, but keeping the air cool and dry helps prevent dust and mold in the home, so go easy on the heat and humidifier.
  5. Ask Your Doctor. At least once each season, get a professional opinion on what would be best for you as temperatures, environments and potential allergens shift throughout the year. Your doctor can best assess whether you should continue with your year-round asthma medication, change medications, or increasing dosages/frequency.

If asthma attacks in the winter are new for you, or if you are noticing an increase in the frequency and severity of your reactions, be sure to ask your doctor and/or allergist what allergens you are triggered by. We hope that this article has given you practical ideas on how to enjoy a healthier winter season!

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