People with asthma have special reason to bundle up in winter weather—in susceptible individuals, cold air provokes asthma attacks by cooling and drying the respiratory tract and triggering muscle spasms that reduce air flow to the lungs.
Experts say the best step to countering the effects of cold weather on asthma is making sure your asthma is under control before Old Man Winter makes an appearance.
But other strategies to make winter easier on your asthma include: 1) Always carry emergency asthma medication, even if it’s just to walk to the mailbox. 2) Dress in layers to keep your body (and lungs) warm. 3) Wear a scarf or facemask (found in sporting goods departments) over your mouth and nose to heat and humidify outdoor air. 4) Use extra caution when clearing snow, skiing, or carrying in the groceries. Rapid breathing increases the chances that lungs will constrict and bring on asthma symptoms.
Difficult breathing, a tight feeling in the chest, coughing, and wheezing characterize an asthma attack.
If you or your loved ones have breathing problems that are triggered by cold weather, be sure to mention it to a doctor. Chronic cough may be the only symptom of asthma, so many people don’t know that they have the manageable disease.