For asthmatics, the winter season presents a whole other set of challenges. A cold blast of wintry air can trigger an attack. People tend to spend more time indoors in the colder months. This means more exposure to indoor triggers like dust mites, pet dander and smoke.
According to the Asthma Foundation, implementing an “asthma plan of action” will allow you to get through the winter season with fewer chances of an asthma attack.
What is an Asthma Plan of Action?
An asthma plan of action is a written list of action steps to take to minimize or prevent asthma attacks, and it is beneficial for all seasons. Your doctor can create an asthma plan of action tailored to your specific needs. Taking your asthma medication and regular reviews with your doctor help you manage your asthma during the winter season.
Managing Cold Weather Triggers
Cold air can tighten the airways, making breathing more difficult. This can trigger an asthma attack. When you go out in cold weather, wear a scarf around your mouth and nose (or a winter mask that covers the bottom half of the face) and try breathing through your nose. This will warm and moisten the air you inhale. Exercise indoors at a gym or in your home on very cold days.
Managing Indoor Triggers
Here are some ways to manage indoor asthma triggers:
- Avoid smoke from cigarettes, fireplaces and wood stoves. If you have a gas fireplace, make sure it has a flue and regularly check for gas leaks.
- Keep your home dry. Use your kitchen fan when cooking. If you have a bathroom fan, let it run when bathing or showering. Check for and repair any pipe and/or window leaks.
- Designate areas of your home that are off-limits to pets, such as your bedroom or any room where you spend a lot of time.
- Use mite-proof covers on your bedding and pillows to keep dust mites at bay.
Managing Cold and Flu Triggers
Here are tips to manage cold and flu asthma triggers:
- Frequently wash your hands, especially after blowing your nose or covering your mouth when you cough or sneeze.
- Wash your hands before eating or preparing food.
- Avoid sharing food utensils and cups/glasses with other people.
- Keep your hands away from your eyes, nose and mouth.
- Talk to your doctor about a flu shot.
Living with asthma is all about being in control of what causes, rather than letting those triggers control you and your ability to enjoy a full life.