Do your asthma symptoms seem to get worse in the winter months? You’re not alone. Depending on your underlying allergies and identified triggers, different seasons can bring on additional symptoms:
- Shortness of breath
- Frequent respiratory infections
- Cough – can be chronic, with phlegm, or dry, mild or severe
- Chest tightness
- Irritated throat
A variety of viruses, the difference in the air, and indoor allergens can all be causes of asthma exacerbation in winter. Learn more about what could be causing your symptoms in this blog.
Cold and Flu
Winter is the prime time for cold and flu to strike, and both can be an added complication for those with asthma. The flu and the common cold add inflammation in the lungs, narrowing the airways and bringing on asthma symptoms.
In a previous blog, we explained that getting the flu shot may prevent you from getting the flu. “Those with asthma have a weaker lung, so if they can prevent getting the flu, they may be preventing themselves from having an asthma exacerbation,” Dr. Kabir explains in this blog.
You should follow general precautions to avoid being infected with either virus:
- Wash your hands often and well
- Use hand sanitizer between washes
- Eat healthy foods
- Keep hands away from your nose, eyes and mouth
- Use disinfectant in your home and work space
If you do end up with a virus, avoid your other triggers and be sure to see your doctor if you have any complications.
Dry and cold air
In the midst of winter, the air is dry everywhere you go – inside and outside. The dry air can be an irritant for those with asthma. When the air gets too cold, it can cause an onset of symptoms, too.
When you’re outside, wrap your nose and mouth with a scarf to avoid breathing in the cold, dry air. Move your workouts indoors on especially cold and dry days.
To keep your home comfortable, keep humidity between 30 and 50 percent. This not only helps keep asthma symptoms from dry air low, but can control dust mite levels, too (read more below!).
For those with allergic asthma, indoor allergens can become a major trigger during the winter. Dust mites, mold, and pet dander can all trigger allergy and asthma symptoms if not under control. Follow these tips to keep your symptoms low:
- Wash all of your bedding every two weeks in hot water
- Change your HEPA furnace filter often
- Vacuum carpets with HEPA filters
- Wash pets, their toys and their beds often
- Keep humidity between 30% and 50%
Symptom relievers can help keep reactions at bay, but there is also the option to treat the cause of allergy long-term with sublingual immunotherapy. A recent AHRQ review illustrated that using sublingual immunotherapy to treat allergies also improved asthma symptoms. Additional research shows that introducing immunotherapy early on can help prevent asthma from developing among kids with key allergic markers.
If you’re interested in finding a provider who treats allergy and asthma with sublingual immunotherapy, find a provider near you.
By Taylor Pasell, Allergychoices