Tips to avoid asthma attacks in cold weather

Lungs and Breathing Primary Care Healthy Aging
man using inhaler

Managing asthma attacks is an important part of staying healthy all year long. But as the temperature dips, asthma attacks may become more common.

“The winter brings colder weather and we spend more time indoors, which can increase the risk of an asthma attack,” explains Vikas Pathak, M.D., an interventional pulmonologist with Riverside Pulmonary and Sleep Specialists.

Fortunately, there are simple things you can do to limit asthma flares in the winter months.

Avoid winter asthma triggers

Asthma triggers can vary among individuals. The most common include mold, dust, pet dander and others. As you spend more time inside, you have more exposure to these common indoor allergens. The winter can also bring unique triggers, like smoke from a fire or a fresh Christmas tree in the living room. 

Here are ways to limit your exposure to these triggers:

  • Wash bedding in hot water once a week.
  • Keep pets out of the bedroom.
  • Have someone else dust and vacuum.
  • Use allergen covers on mattresses and pillows.

Stay Healthy

A cold or the flu can also trigger your asthma in cold weather since these illnesses are much more common in the winter. Keep yourself and your family healthy:

  • Wash your hands regularly.
  • Avoid people who are sick. 
  • Get a flu shot.
  • Sneeze and cough into a tissue or your elbow.
  • Eat healthy.
  • Get plenty of rest.
  • Exercise.

Keep warm

Cold air can trigger your lungs to produce histamine, which can cause an asthma flare in the winter. Stay warm all season to reduce your risk of an asthma attack:

  • Bundle up in a warm coat and gloves.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a mask or a scarf.
  • Exercise indoors.

Be proactive

Stay one step ahead of asthma in cold weather by being proactive. Remember to:

  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Carry your inhaler when you head outdoors. 
  • Use a rescue inhaler 10 to 15 minutes before heading outside.
  • Manage your stress.
  • Avoid secondhand smoke.

“One of the most important ways you can avoid an asthma attack is by taking the medicine prescribed by your doctor,” says Dr. Pathak. “If you find yourself having more frequent flares, schedule an appointment with your provider so that, together, you can make a plan to better control asthma in cold weather.”

Need a doctor? Find a doctor near you


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