Cold weather is a major trigger for asthma symptoms. Here are five tips for keeping asthma at bay as the winter temperatures drop.
Cold weather can have a serious impact on the 5.4 million people with asthma in the UK. According to Asthma UK, three-quarters of people with asthma reckon that cold air is a trigger for their symptoms and 90% say that having a cold or flu makes their asthma considerably worse.
Hospital admissions for asthma traditionally peak during periods of, particularly cold weather. This can be due to breathing cold air into the lungs, which can in turn trigger breathing difficulties, as well as picking up colds and flu.
People whose asthma is well-controlled are more likely to be able to withstand the risks of winter months. You can help keep your asthma under control by making sure you have a regular asthma review with your doctor or asthma nurse and that you have a personal asthma action plan.
Five tips for preventing cold weather asthma symptoms
Asthma UK has this advice on how to control your asthma symptoms during the cold weather:
- Keep taking your regular preventer medicines as prescribed by your doctor.
- Keep your blue reliever inhaler with you at all times.
- If you know that cold air triggers your asthma, take one or two puffs of your reliever inhaler before going outside.
- Wrap up well and wear a scarf over your nose and mouth – this will help to warm up the air before you breathe it in.
- Take extra care when exercising during the cold weather. Warm up for 10-15 minutes and take one or two puffs of your reliever inhaler before you start.
Asthma attacks in winter with the onset of very cold weather, it is a good idea to make sure you and your friends and family know what to do if you have an attack.
The key signs are:
- Coughing more than usual
- Getting short of breath
- Feeling a tightness in your chest
- Having difficulty speaking in full sentences
What to do if you’re having an attack
Asthma UK’s guidelines for people having an attack are to:
- Take one to two puffs of your reliever inhaler (usually blue) immediately.
- Sit down and try to take slow, steady breaths.
- If you do not start to feel better, take two puffs of your reliever inhaler (one puff at a time) every two minutes. You can take up to 10 puffs.
- If you don’t feel better after taking your inhaler as above, or if you are worried at any time, call 999.
- If an ambulance doesn’t arrive within 10 minutes and you are still feeling unwell, repeat step 3.
If your symptoms improve and you don’t need to call 999, you still need to see your GP or asthma nurse within 24 hours.
If you have queries about any aspect of asthma, you can call the Asthma UK free telephone helpline, which is staffed by asthma nurse specialists, on 0300 222 5800 or visit Asthma UK’s Contact page.