Cold, dry air and an increased risk of upper respiratory infections can worsen asthma symptoms during the winter. Washing your hands frequently, exercising indoors, and taking other healthy steps can help you keep a handle on asthma attacks.
- Wash your hands!
- Don’t sit by the fireplace. “The more evidence we have, the more we realize that burning wood is like burning tobacco,” explains Todd Rambasek, MD, of ENT & Allergy Health Services in Cleveland.
- Keep your mouth closed. Ideally, you want to breathe through your nose, not your mouth, when you’re out in the cold because the nose warms up the air for the lungs, Dr. Rambasek says.
- Replace filters. Your home heating system may blow dust and debris throughout your house, especially when you first start it up for the winter. It’s important to clean and replace filters before turning on your system so as not to release the debris.
- Exercise indoors. On days when it’s bitterly cold outside and the wind chill makes it feel like it’s below zero, Li recommends going to the gym instead of exercising outside. “The temperatures and the humidity in the gym are less likely to cause a problem,” she says.
- Warm up before working out. A recent study showed that people with asthma recover faster and have greater lung function after exercising when they are warmed up.
- Take steps to prevent asthma flares. Take a preventive dose of your asthma medicine before heading outside, whether to exercise, walk the dog, or run errands.
- Have an asthma action plan. No matter what the season, you should always know what to do if your asthma symptoms flare.
- Take your medications. It’s important to follow your treatment plan regardless of the time of year. Don’t let a busy work or social schedule cause you to ignore your health.
Keeping your asthma under control may take a little more effort in the cold of winter, but these strategies should get you through the season without worsened symptoms.