Nearly 27 million Americans have asthma, a chronic respiratory condition that causes airway inflammation, trouble breathing, and other potentially serious symptoms. If you have asthma, you know wintertime can be especially challenging, exacerbating your symptoms while increasing your risk of other respiratory ailments, too.
At Respacare in Bridgewater, New Jersey, Nehal Mehta, MD, FCCP, FAASM, and Prashant Patel, MD, work closely with asthma patients to help develop an asthma management strategy that works for them. In this post, learn seven simple tips that can help you manage your asthma symptoms during the cold winter months.
1. Avoid cold air
Cold, dry air is a trigger for lots of people with asthma — and unfortunately, cold, dry air features prominently in New Jersey winters. You can’t stay indoors all winter, but you can take a couple of simple steps to reduce the impact of cold air on your airways.
First, wear a scarf when you go out. A scarf over your nose and mouth helps warm the air before it enters the airways. And second, try to breathe through your nose, where mucus membranes do double duty to both warm air and add moisture so irritation is reduced.
2. Use a humidifier
Outdoor air is dry, but indoor air can be even drier, thanks to central heating. To keep your indoor air moist, try using a humidifier in the rooms where you spend most of your time.
Clean the tank and filters regularly to prevent mold and mildew that can make your symptoms a lot worse (and even lead to more serious health issues).
3. Change your HVAC filters
It’s also crucial to change your HVAC filters regularly. During winter months, those filters work to remove a lot of dust and other irritants that can trigger asthma symptoms.
Changing them regularly not only keeps your air cleaner, but it can prevent your HVAC system from overworking, too. Schedule filter changes based on your HVAC system’s guidelines, and keep filters on hand to make the task as easy and convenient as possible.
4. Follow your action plan
If you have asthma, you should have an asthma action plan. Your plan is tailored to your specific needs, including your symptoms, personal triggers, and lifestyle habits.
Each plan includes detailed steps to manage your asthma symptoms, prevent flare-ups, and ward off complications. If you don’t have an action plan, make an appointment with our team so we can develop one that works for you.
5. Carry your inhaler
Asthma inhalers deliver precise doses of medication to help relax your airways and soothe irritation and inflammation. Using your inhaler at the first sign of asthma symptoms helps prevent those symptoms from getting worse.
Make sure to keep your inhaler with you at all times and have it refilled regularly. If your inhaler is expired or if you find your particular type of inhaler isn’t as effective as you need it to be, make an appointment with our team, so we can adjust your medication or dosing.
6. Get a flu shot
If getting an annual flu shot isn’t part of your asthma action plan, it probably should be. Asthma makes you more prone to respiratory illnesses like flu, and it also increases the risk that you’ll develop more serious symptoms, including complications requiring hospitalization.
7. Stay active
Asthma might prevent you from doing a lot of outdoor activities during cold New Jersey winters, but that doesn’t mean it’s OK to hibernate. Look for other ways to stay active, like indoor walking tracks, swimming, or your local gym. Regular physical activity strengthens your lungs and improves your immune system to help reduce asthma symptoms and reduce the risk of other respiratory ailments.
Managing wintertime asthma symptoms can be challenging, but with a few simple steps, you can reduce flare-ups and improve your respiratory health, too. To learn how we can help you manage your asthma symptoms, request an appointment online or over the phone with the team at Respacare today.