Asthma in Winter

Sandeep Sodhi

Is your asthma worse in winter? We live differently during our cold season and asthma may trigger for many reasons. Dry and cold air can dry out the air passage to your lungs, causing irritation. Indoor air quality may be more of a concern as you stay at home more with your furnace running. Humidity indoors may also be a concern, allowing for mold growth in bathrooms, kitchens or bedding due to humid conditions caused by daily washing and laundering. Addressing potential triggers is key to preventing asthma.

 

If cold weather causes your asthma to flare, there are things you can do to prevent the cold from irritating and drying out your airways:

  • Check the outdoor temperature before going out and dress appropriately
  • Cover your airways (both nose and mouth) with a loose scarf or covering
  • Avoid drafts and wind
  • Breathe through your nose as much as possible
  • Avoid exercise in cold weather, if needed use your rescue inhaler prior to exercise (check with your pharmacist or physician)
  • Keep a rescue inhaler with you and use it as soon as symptoms appear, such as cough or signs of worsened breathing

 

Indoor air quality has become a greater concern as our homes are more tightly sealed especially for winter, preventing the escape of humid air and trapping dust . 

 

Did you know that we shed almost a million dead skin cells every day! That dust you see on your table is largely skin cells (yikes!). Keeping ducts cleaned and changing air filters frequently is the best way to address indoor air quality. Using a HEPA air purifier in your bedroom or often frequented rooms may be a worthy investment if you have pet dander concerns. However, changing out your air filter frequently is a better solution than paying more money for expensive filters for your heating or ventilation system. Removing dust by mopping or wet cloth wipe is a must for all hard surfaces. Keeping dust down will reduce asthma triggering mites in your home. Try replacing carpets that trap and release allergens with smooth flooring in your future renovation plans.

 

Mold is an asthma trigger that isn’t commonly thought of during cold weather, after all, mold grows in moist and warm conditions. Humidity is an issue in many homes over winter. If you have a family with everyone bathing daily, laundry nonstop, and cooking in the kitchen, it’s likely humidity will be quite high in your home for extended times. If you have frost inside your windows – humidity is an issue. Look for signs of mold growth or smells. Measure your humidity and keep it below 50% with a dehumidifier. 

 

Avoiding triggers is a preventative strategy for asthma, and using medication to prevent exacerbations and treat episodes will keep asthma under control. Always seek advice from your doctor when breathing is affected. Coughs that tend to linger, appear with regularity, or seasonally, should be diagnosed by your doctor. Your pharmacist can discuss the best ways to use your inhalers, medications, and non-medicinal solutions for your asthma.

Sandeep Sodhi
West End Family & Village Family PharmaChoice
Bible Hill & Truro, NS
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