Asthma is a big problem in the United States. According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, approximately 25 million Americans have asthma. For all of those individuals, their asthma is a daily struggle. For some, their asthma gets even worse in the winter.
If you’re one of those people, you know that this time of the year can be especially difficult. But have you ever wondered why?
Dr. Michael Skardasis and our team at Optimal Performance Medicine in Woodstock, Georgia want to clear up the confusion surrounding your wintertime asthma. Here’s everything you need to know.
A closer look at asthma
Asthma is a condition in which the airways in your lungs swell, narrow, and, in some cases, produce extra mucus, making it hard to breathe.
You might also notice other symptoms like shortness of breath, chest pain and tightness, wheezing, trouble sleeping, and worsened respiratory illnesses.
While there’s no exact cause of asthma, there are a handful of environmental and genetic factors that increase your risk. These risk factors include:
- Family history of asthma
- Being obese
- Smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke
- Exposure to harmful fumes and pollutants
Your asthma can be a mild nuisance, or you could experience frequent, severe attacks. No matter how severe your asthma is, it’s important to be aware of what triggers an attack.
Some of the most common asthma triggers are:
- Airborne allergens and pollutants
- Certain medications and preservatives
- Experiencing strong emotions or stress
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease
Knowing what triggers your asthma attacks makes it easier to manage your symptoms.
Your asthma in the winter
When the weather’s nice, your asthma is easier to control. But when winter rolls around, you may notice worsening symptoms.
The cold air and the increased risk of respiratory illnesses during the winter can make living with asthma even more difficult than it already is. Here’s how.
During the winter months, the air becomes not only colder but drier. This combination can irritate your airways and cause your muscles to spasm, making it even harder to breathe during this time of year.
Wintertime is notorious for the sudden spikes in respiratory illnesses like the common cold and the flu. If you have asthma, you already have enough problems getting air in and out of your lungs, and contracting a respiratory illness can exacerbate your symptoms and make you more susceptible to attacks.
Tips for managing your wintertime asthma
While it may seem like the very air around you is a threat to your health, there are a few things you can do to make it through the winter.
Even if you don’t have asthma, the flu causes serious respiratory issues. That’s why it’s imperative that you do your best to avoid the flu this winter if you have asthma by getting your flu shot.
Exercising outside in the cold, dry air when you have asthma can result in shortness of breath. Try moving your workouts indoors to avoid the irritating effects of the winter air.
Cover your mouth
If you’re spending time outdoors in the chilly air, consider using a scarf or other piece of fabric to cover your mouth. This will warm the air as it enters your airways, making it easier for you to breathe.
Get a humidifier
Even the air inside your house can dry out in the winter months. Invest in a humidifier to keep the air inside moist and easy to breathe.
Practice good hygiene
When you have asthma and you get sick with the cold or flu, you’ll likely have a tougher time recovering from the illness. That’s why we strongly encourage you to keep your hands clean and refrain from touching your face to prevent the spread of germs.
Make a plan
Make sure that you head into winter with an action plan in place. Dr. Skardasis can help you come up with the strategies you’ll need if you get sick.
Don’t struggle through another winter. Contact us at 678-224-5406 to schedule an appointment and get the asthma care you need.