If you struggle with asthma, you’re not alone. About 8% of American adults and 7% of children have been diagnosed with this condition, which causes your airways to swell and makes breathing difficult.
Unfortunately, the colder, drier months of fall and winter can make your asthma worse. In fact, this type of air can cause people who don’t experience asthma at other times of the year to develop winter-induced asthma.
The board-certified providers at Wasatch Peak Family Practice and Oceans Contours in Layton, Utah, specialize in diagnosing and treating asthma. If you’re wondering why your asthma is affected by the weather and what you can do about it, keep reading to learn what you need to know.
To understand why colder, drier air can affect your asthma, it’s important to understand the basics of the condition.
When you experience chronic inflammation, or swelling, of the airways to your lungs, you develop asthma. The inflammation causes those passageways to become narrower and can make breathing a challenge.
Asthma can also trigger other side effects, like coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, and tightness in your chest. You can develop asthma at any age, and the degree of symptoms varies from person to person.
Some people may have only minor or occasional asthma attacks, while others live with more severe symptoms. Asthma can change over time, either going away or getting worse, and different factors such as smoke, pet dander, the weather, and chemicals can influence your symptoms.
If you suspect you may have asthma, it’s important to get an accurate diagnosis from a medical professional. At Wasatch Peak Family Practice and Oceans Contours, our providers specialize in diagnosing and managing asthma.
Why cold, dry air affects asthma
Not everyone with asthma notices a difference in symptoms during the fall and winter. However, for many people, colder, drier air acts as an asthma trigger, making symptoms worse. This is because cold, dry air can irritate the passageways you use to breathe.
When the airways to your lungs are irritated, your body produces more mucus to soothe the irritation. The extra mucus, however, can make asthma worse as it closes off the airways further.
The cold, dry air isn’t the only reason you may experience worsening asthma symptoms during the fall and winter. During these months, the incidence of respiratory illness rises. If you catch a cold, flu, or other virus, like COVID-19, it can trigger increased inflammation and make your asthma flare up.
During the colder months, people also spend more time inside. While the air inside may be warmer, you may be spending more time with indoor triggers, like pet dander, dust, mold, and tobacco smoke that can make your asthma worse.
Steps to manage asthma during the fall and winter
Currently, there’s no cure for asthma, so it’s important to take extra steps to keep your condition under control when the weather is cold and dry. At Wasatch Peak Family Practice and Oceans Contours, our experts put their heads together to give you our top cold-weather asthma tips:
- Take your asthma medications as prescribed. This can go a long way toward managing asthma flare-ups.
- Use a humidifier. Adding moisture to the air can help keep your airways from getting inflamed.
- Take precautions to avoid getting sick. During cold and flu season, it’s especially important to practice good hygiene by washing your hands frequently and staying away from sick people. Also be sure to follow the CDC guidelines regarding COVID-19 prevention.
- Keep your airways warm. When you venture into the cold air outside, keep your passageways warm by wearing a scarf or face mask over your mouth and nose.
- Limit time outside. If the cold, dry air aggravates your asthma, do what you can to limit your time outdoors.
- Keep your indoor environment clean. Minimize indoor asthma triggers by keeping your indoor environment as free of dust, pet dander, and smoke as possible. Use an air filter in your heating system, and avoid wood-burning fires in your fireplace.
- Boost your immune system. Be sure to eat a healthy diet rich in plant-based foods and a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables to give your immune system a boost and stave off colds and other viruses that can make asthma worse.
- Get help from your doctor. If you’re worried about your asthma as the colder weather approaches, or if you notice a change in your symptoms, don’t wait to schedule an appointment with an allergy expert at Wasatch Peak Family Practice and Oceans Contours.
If the colder, drier months have you worried about your asthma, contact your provider at Wasatch Peak Family Practice and Oceans Contours. Call our Layton, Utah, office at 801-210-9984 or send us a message to schedule an appointment now.