Winter asthma – don’t let it take your breath away

Tips on improving inside air.

Winter asthma – don’t let it take your breath away

For many people, asthma attacks may happen more often in the winter. According to Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Staff Neurosurgeon, Emory Clinic; CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, “almost all asthma is allergic. Early diagnosis and treatment is essential in preventing deaths.”

What does asthma sounds like?

  • Wheezing – you can hear when you breathe.
  • There’s also silent asthma, which is more of a chronic cough.

Common indoor Asthma triggers:

  • Home cleaning products
  • Scented candles and oils
  • Cigarette smoke
  • High indoor humidity
  • Drafty windows
  • Dust mites
  • Pets
  • Mold
  • Smoke from wood burning stoves
  • Changing weather

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), triggers may be different for each individual with asthma. To improve air inside your home look at how energy efficient your home is. A recent study by Oregon State found:

  • Poorly ventilated homes – contribute exposure to biological, chemical and physical contaminants that can worsen asthma
  • High humidity in the home – keep the house cool and dry to avoid dust mites and bacteria, which can affect breathing

Outdoor asthma tips:

  • Cold air – cold air entering the lungs can cause airway constriction and is therefore a common

trigger for asthmatics. Control your exposure, wrap up well and wear a scarf over your nose and mouth. This will help warm the air before you breathe it in.

  • Chimney smoke – avoid areas of heavy pollutants.
  • Have your relief inhaler ready and/or use it before you know the cold air will trigger your asthma.

Since asthmatics may be more likely to need their inhaler during the cold months, make sure to review the Asthma Action Plan and keep it handy. Included in the action planning are tips, including:

  • Run the fan in your bathroom when taking a bath or shower.
  • Use the exhaust fan in the kitchen when cooking or using the dishwasher.
  • Be sure your gas stove is well-ventilated.
  • Fix leaky windows.

With your healthcare provider’s help, you can control your asthma and enjoy winter!

For more information about asthma and other chronic illness, visit your local Michigan State University Extension office and http://msue.anr.msu.edu/topic/info/chronic_disease

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