Treating Asthma in Winter Weatherby Jennifer Mitchell Wilson B.S. Dietetics, Dietitian, Health Professional
Some people with asthma find that their breathing issues flare up during the winter. Fortunately there are several things you can do to help limit breathing issues during this time of the year.
Keep up with your treatment plan
One of the most important ways to keep your asthma in check in the winter is to keep up with your treatment plan. This means using your maintenance medication or controller as directed and having a rescue inhaler handy if you need one. Taking peak flow measurements can help your doctor determine if your breathing issues are under control.
Protect yourself from illness
Upper respiratory infections can aggravate asthma during the winter. Preventing infections through proper hand-washing and staying clear of people when they are sick can help limit the number of times you are sick. Getting a flu shot or pneumonia vaccine as recommended by your physician can also help.
Dealing with the cold temperatures
Because low temperatures can sometimes worsen asthma symptoms, it can be helpful to limit the time spent outdoors; cover the nose and mouth with a muffler or scarf when outside; and use a rescue medication prior to heading outside as indicated by your physician.
Dealing with humidity
Winter air that is too dry or too humid can trigger asthma symptoms. The CDC recommends that air humidity stay between 35 and 50 percent. You can monitor the air humidity by using a hygrometer. If your home consistently remains out of the appropriate range, add moisture to the air with a humidifier or remove moisture with a dehumidifier.
Indoor asthma triggers
If indoor triggers tend to be the source of your asthma woes, limiting them can help during the winter, when we generally spend more time indoors. Reducing the time spent with pets, utilizing exhaust fans while cooking, covering bedding with dust mite covers and using a HEPA air purifier can reduce indoor exposure to asthma triggers.
Take care of yourself
In the end, simply taking care of yourself is key. People with asthma need to eat a healthy diet with plenty of fruits and veggies, stay hydrated, get enough sleep and exercise as tolerated (or as allowed by a physician). These behaviors will not only improve your overall health but can help lessen asthma symptoms and prevent illness.