Why Cold Weather Triggers Asthma

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cold-induced-asthma

Overview

People with asthma may find themselves affected by the seasons. When the temperature lowers down, it becomes difficult for them to normally breathe. Going outside may not be a good idea as this might bring on symptoms such as coughing and wheezing even faster. So, what causes cold-induced asthma and what can you do to prevent attacks during the winter months? But before we dive into that, let us first define what cold-induced asthma is.

What is Cold-Induced Asthma?

According to the World Health Organization, asthma is a chronic disease and is one of the major noncommunicable diseases. It is also estimated that 235 million people currently suffer from this condition. When you have asthma, your airways get inflamed and narrow. Swollen airways are narrower and as a result, they can’t take in as much air. This is the reason why many people with this condition have difficulty breathing. There are several factors that could trigger the symptoms of asthma such as inhaling cold, dry air during the winter season. This is termed as cold-induced asthma.

Cold-induced asthma is recognized as a respiratory disorder that is characterized by airway muscle contraction and mucus accumulation. Researchers once believed that the primary trigger of asthma is the coldness of the air. However, recent research developments indicate that the dryness and not the temperature is what triggers the condition.

How Does Cold Air Affect Asthma Symptoms?

Our airways are lined with a thin layer of fluid and so when we breathe in dry air, that thin layer of fluid evaporates faster than it can be replaced. When our airways are dry, they become irritated and swollen. This will then trigger your asthma symptoms.

In addition, the cold air also increases the mucus because aside from the thin layer of fluid, our airways are lined with a layer of protective mucus which aids in the removal of unhealthy particles. During the winter season, our body produces more mucus which is thicker and stickier. The extra mucus produced will make you more prone to catch a cold or other infection.

What are the Symptoms of Cold-Induced Asthma?

There are several factors that may manifest when you have cold-induced asthma. These symptoms typically develop shortly after you are exposed to cold surroundings. The good news is that the symptoms will just go away once you reach a warmer environment. Here are some of the symptoms of cold-induced asthma you should look out for:

  • Coughing
  • Chest pain
  • Wheezing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Tightness in the chest

These symptoms may just go away when proper medications are taken. However, individuals with more severe asthma may experience long-lasting symptoms.

What are the Treatments Available for Cold-Induced Asthma?

It is important to get your asthma under control during the cold months. You can take quick-relief or long-term medications to relieve the symptoms of asthma. You can schedule an appointment with your doctor so that you can discuss an asthma action plan and ask for a proper prescription of medicines.

There are quick-relief medicines that can be taken when you need them and can be used to prevent and treat wheezing and shortness of breath. These medicines work in the airways by opening breathing passages and relaxing the muscles. Short-acting bronchodilators and anticholinergics are examples of these drugs.

Long-term controller medicines are drugs that a person needs to take every day in order to manage asthma symptoms. Some of these medicines include inhaled corticosteroids, long-acting beta-agonists, and leukotriene modifiers.

What Can You Do to Prevent Asthma Attacks During Winter?

There are ways to prevent asthma attacks during winter. You can always stay in the comforts of your home, however, there will always be days wherein you need to go outside. Here are some of the things you can do:

  • Cover your nose and mouth with a scarf to warm these areas.
  • Drink lots of fluid to keep you hydrated.
  • If you plan to exercise outdoors, carry your inhaler with you and use it 15 to 20 minutes before exercising. This is to open up your airways so you can breathe easier.
  • Try to avoid anyone who has colds or flu.

Dr. Paul Jantzi, a board-certified allergist and immunologist, provides allergy treatments in Texas with office locations in Bastrop, Brenham, College Station, Columbus, Giddings, and La Grange. You can contact him at any of the Brazos Valley Allergy & Asthma Clinics for professional allergy, asthma, and immunology services at six locations throughout the Brazos Valley. They provide the best care and affordable treatments for patients who have asthma.

Disclaimer: Information on this website is not intended to be used in place of your professional medical advice or treatment. Please consult your doctor or healthcare provider with any questions regarding a medical condition.

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