Winter asthma

When the temperature dips and it becomes chilly, going outside can cause breathing difficulties

New Delhi: If you suffer from asthma, the infection and symptoms may be there throughout the year, even though some seasons like winter may aggravate them.
When the temperature dips and it becomes chilly, going outside can cause breathing difficulties. And for those who exercise in the cold, symptoms like coughing, and wheezing can cause a lot of problems.

How are asthma and cold linked?

In asthma, your bronchial tubes or airways become swollen and inflamed due to certain triggers that can be lifestyle or environment-induced. When swollen, the airways cannot let the air to breathe pass easily, and hence people have a problem catching their breath.

According to health experts, from simple walking to exercise, it becomes a big chore in winter as you are forced to breathe through your mouth to take in more air. While your nose has blood vessels that warm and humidify the air before it reaches your lungs, air that travels directly through your mouth remains cold and dry.

Why does cold trigger asthma?

There are many reasons why cold weather triggers a bigger asthma problem, a few of which are:

Cold air increases dryness: Nasal passages are always lined with mucous which helps keep the area moist. However, when you breathe in cold and dry air the fluid evaporates faster making the airways swollen and inflamed, which worsens asthma symptoms.

Cold air also produces histamine, which increases the chances of an allergy attack, causing wheezing and breathlessness.

Cold air increases sticky mucous: Even though the nose is already lined with mucous, during extreme temperatures, your body produces more of it, which is thicker and stickier than normal and causes you to catch infections.

Cold air gives rise to infections: Cold weather makes you more prone to infections like flu, coughs, and colds, triggering many respiratory issues as well. If you stay indoors, dust particles, animal dander, tobacco smoke, dampness, heating, open fires, mold, etc. can act as allergens.

Symptoms of asthma

The most common signs and symptoms of asthma attacks include:

  • Wheezing, a whistling sound while breathing
  • Breathlessness
  • Tightness in the chest
  • Continuous coughing
  • Faster heartbeat
  • Drowsiness
  • Exhaustion
  • Dizziness
  • Blue lips or fingers

How to avoid asthma triggers?

According to doctors, there is no cure for asthma, but it can be managed with a lifestyle change. A few small steps you can take to control asthma are:

  • Avoid contact triggers and allergens: Doctors say that you should identify asthma triggers and allergens in your home and make your indoor environment healthier.
  • Get vaccinated: Respiratory infections like colds, coughs and flu increase in winter and can worsen your asthma. So, get a flu vaccine every year to keep your lungs healthy.
  • Take your asthma medicines: Do get in touch with your doctor to get a prescribed medicine to control your asthma and take it regularly.
  • Keep your inhaler near you: Always have your quick-relief medicines, including your inhaler, with you at all times.

Disclaimer: Tips and suggestions mentioned in the article are for general information purposes only and should not be construed as professional medical advice. Always consult your doctor or a dietician before starting any fitness programme or making any changes to your diet.

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