If you’re among the more than 25 million women, men, and children in the United States who suffer from asthma, you may dread the shift to colder weather. Even though you may have fewer allergic triggers to your disease, the cold, damp winds outdoors and overly heated, dry air indoors may bring on an attack.
To keep your asthma under control and avoid triggers, it helps to have an asthma plan. Your plan needs to shift as the seasons do, so you can account for things like increased pollen in the spring and summer, and increased risk of respiratory illnesses in the fall and winter.
Lakshmi Reddy, MD — an expert at diagnosing and treating asthma at the Allergy and Asthma Institute in North Atlanta, Georgia — is ready and willing to help you create a personalized asthma plan. To aid in preparing for the winter, she and our staff have compiled this list of tips for breathing more easily in blustery winds and overheated interiors.
Let’s face it. Unless you’re a snow bunny, you’ll probably spend more time indoors than outdoors this winter.
If you work in an office, or spend time visiting family and friends for the holidays, you may not have much control over those interior environments. But you can control your own home.
Dust mite exposure and mold exposure can increase in the cold climate as you spend more time indoors. Change your air filters every 30 days. Keep the humidity levels between 35-50%. Do not run a humidifier unless the humidity drops below 35% humidity.
Smoke is a trigger for asthma attacks. Of course, if you smoke, it’s imperative that you quit immediately. Dr. Reddy can refer you to a smoking cessation program.
If you have visitors to your home who smoke, ask them to kindly smoke outdoors, away from windows. If you visit smokers, be sure to let them know that you have asthma so that either they or you can go outdoors if they absolutely must light up.
Cold air can trigger an asthma attack. So can microbes and pollen that get stirred up by wild winds or rain.
Warm up the air before it hits your lungs by wrapping a scarf around your mouth and nose. You might also wear a mask, which protects you from the cold air and also from pathogens.
Be sure to carry your inhaler with you wherever you go. Have one in your coat pocket or purse in case you have an attack while outdoors.
If you have asthma, it’s vital that you prevent any kind of illness that could affect your respiratory system. Make sure you’re up-to-date on your COVID vaccines and your flu shots.
Mask up when in public spaces to reduce the risk of catching an airborne illness that could trigger attacks or cause inflammation and mucus in your nose or throat.
Wash your hands frequently, including every time you come in from the outdoors. Carry hand sanitizer with you, in case you need to touch germy surfaces indoors, such as the handles of shopping carts, or gym equipment.
Most people with asthma also have allergies, which can trigger or worsen asthma attacks. By undergoing extensive allergy testing, you learn which foods and substances you’re allergic to, and which could prompt an asthma attack.
For instance, if you find you’re allergic to mold, you need to do everything you can to rid your home of mold and prevent it from recurring. Arrange for professional mold-removal. Avoid drying clothes on a line indoors. Be sure to use vent fans in bathrooms and the kitchen.
If you’ve been prescribed an inhaler, keep it with you at all times. In fact, have several available in all of the areas you use, such as your home, your car, and your purse or coat pockets.
You may also have a type of asthma called exercise-induced asthma. If so, keep your inhaler handy at the gym or on the track, too.
If you or your child has asthma, winter can be challenging. Contact us today for asthma treatment or allergy testing by phoning our helpful team at 678-615-7878. Or, instead, book an appointment online.