Asthma in the Winter Time
Many people experience a greater number of asthma attacks in the winter, because they’re exposed to colder air and more indoor triggers. Fortunately, you can reduce your risk of problems by adopting a winter asthma action plan, based on the following tips:
- Pull a turtleneck, scarf or gaiter over your nose and mouth to warm the air as you inhale.
- Avoid outdoor exercise and chores when it’s very cold outside.
- Inhale through your nose instead of your mouth to better warm the air you’re breathing.
- Change the filters in your heating system before it gets cold outside.
- Avoid down pillows or comforters and wash all bedding in hot water at least once a week.
- Keep your home smoke-free. Fireplace, cigarette and candle smoke can permeate your home, even if you keep doors closed.
- Have someone vacuum and dust your home often to reduce allergens.
- Clean carpets and fabric-covered furniture using a vacuum equipped with a high efficiency (HEPA) filter.
Because indoor heating dries the air, it can worsen asthma symptoms. You can reduce the impact by using a humidifier in your home. Ideally, you should keep the humidity level around 30 to 45 percent, since too much humidity can lead to mildew, mold and dust mites. Be sure to clean the humidifier frequently and replace the water every day. If possible, use demineralized or distilled water, since the minerals in tap water can promote bacterial growth.
Guarding Against the Flu
People with asthma are much more likely to develop serious complications related to the influenza virus. For this reason, it’s especially important to get vaccinated as early as possible. If you do get the flu, visit your healthcare provider right away for antiviral medications that can reduce the severity of your illness and the likelihood of complications.