Asthma is a chronic condition that affects nearly 25 million people in America. It’s a respiratory disease that makes breathing difficult and often comes with lung spasms, wheezing, and chest tightness.
Your lungs are made of bronchi that transport air to and from your lungs. If you have asthma, your airways are easily inflamed. Inflamed airways swell, closing your breathing passages and making it hard for air to reach your lungs.
Changes in your environment — like weather, dust, and smoke — can make your lungs extra sensitive. For many asthmatics, winter weather brings more frequent asthma attacks. The doctors at Wasatch Peak Family Practice can help you find an asthma treatment plan that works with your lifestyle.
One of the best things you can do to prevent and manage asthma attacks in winter is to understand your triggers and know your treatment plan. Let us help you understand your asthma and how to control it.
Cold air can trigger asthma attacks
Asthma sufferers are sensitive to their environment and the air they breathe. Triggers can cause your bronchial passageways to spasm and close off. When this happens, you can feel short of breath and start wheezing or coughing. It’s a swelling response in your airways that creates an asthma attack.
Cold air can cause your airways to seize up, triggering an asthma attack. Winter air can also be moist, harboring mold spores and dust mites. When you breathe damp, cold air, you put your lungs at risk for inhaling particles that cause flare-ups and airway swelling.
Cold and flu viruses are prevalent in winter, and cold air makes them spread easily. If you have asthma and you get sick, the mucus your body develops can clog your airways. While you naturally have a thin layer of mucus in your airways, getting sick can create more mucus that fills your narrow breathing passages.
Spending more time inside can trigger asthma
Cold air can trigger an asthma attack, so many people with asthma avoid going outside in the winter. But indoor air isn’t necessarily better. Indoor air can be filled with dust, dander, and mold that can cause asthma attacks, too.
Indoor air is often warm and dry, and central heating systems circulate cold and flu viruses through offices and schools. Dry air irritates your airways, leaving you susceptible to an asthma attack.
Your body naturally produces mucus to line and protect your sinuses, throat, lungs, and more from drying out. It keeps your airways moist, but dry air can make it evaporate quickly and lead to irritation. Once your airways are inflamed, they swell up and make it hard to breathe.
Manage attacks proactively
When it comes to managing winter asthma, be prepared. Start by protecting yourself from cold and flu viruses by getting a flu shot every year. Limit your exposure to people who are sick, and wash your hands regularly to stay healthy during the winter season.
Wear a scarf or mask every time you go outside to protect your lungs from cold air. If you enjoy exercising outside, you might have to move your activity indoors during winter. Exertion in cold weather can cause anyone to get short of breath, and you can put yourself at increased risk for an asthma attack.
To make indoor air easier to breathe, change your furnace filter regularly. Clean filters trap particles that can trigger asthma attacks. If you struggle with dry indoor air, use a humidifier, which puts moisture back into the air and makes it easier to breathe.
Regardless of the season, you should know your asthma attack treatment plan and take your medications regularly. Always have your recovery inhaler with you and be aware of your triggers before you suffer an attack.
At Wasatch Peak Family Practice, we’re here to help you manage your asthma — in every season. Don’t let winter asthma keep you from enjoying your active lifestyle. Call our Layton, Utah, office or request your first appointment online to learn more about the best asthma care plan for you.