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How to Manage Asthma During the Cold Dry Months of Winter

Asthma is a common condition that causes swollen or inflamed airways in your lungs. These changes can increase your sensitivity to things in your environment and cause your airways to narrow, making it difficult to breathe. Such episodes are known as asthma attacks and can vary in duration and severity.

Common triggers of asthma attacks include:

Allergens like animal dander, dust mites, or pollen
Irritants in the air, like strong perfumes or smoke
Certain illnesses — especially the flu and upper respiratory infections
If you have asthma, it’s also common for your symptoms to grow worse during winter months when the air is colder and drier. But you don’t have to dread the return of winter every year. The team at Internal Medicine & Pediatric Clinic in New Albany, Mississippi, understands the complexity of managing asthma in both children and adults and can help you better control your symptoms even when the winter winds blow.

Beat the heat
Don’t forget to replace your furnace filters each season before you crank up the heat. By ignoring this simple step, you run the risk of blowing dust and debris throughout your entire house, which can trigger an asthma attack. Running your furnace also dries out the air, so set your thermostat at a consistent temperature and run a humidifier to maintain optimal humidity levels in your home.

Plan your exercise
As tempting as it may be to exercise outdoors on a cool winter day, extreme temperatures can irritate your airways and cause asthma flare-ups. When the mercury drops, play it safe by exercising indoors or wait for the warmest time of day to be outdoors, like midafternoon.

People with asthma usually have greater lung function and faster recovery times when they warm up before exercise or activity. So, during winter months, consider doing your first 20 minutes of exercise indoors before heading out into the cold.

Protect your health
Cold and dry air aren’t the only things that irritate swollen and inflamed airways. Even the mildest upper respiratory infections can trigger an asthma attack. While you can get a cold or the flu at any time of year, cases increase significantly during winter.

Everyone over 6 months of age should get an annual flu shot as protection against the virus. It’s also essential to wash your hands frequently with soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizers to reduce your chances of being exposed or spreading germs that cause colds and flu.

Use your medication wisely
Year-round, you need to have an effective management plan for controlling your asthma and dealing with asthma attacks. During winter, when you have increased risk of asthma attacks, be sure to properly follow your treatment plan and continue getting regular checkups.

Based on your symptoms, your doctor might recommend modifying your prescriptions and medication schedule or suggest a preventive dose of medication before you head outdoors in the cold.

For more information on managing asthma during the cold, dry months of winter, call Internal Medicine & Pediatric Clinic, or request an appointment online today.

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