A deep breath of cold winter air can be risky for people with asthma, bronchitis, or COPD. It can trigger wheezing, coughing, and shortness of breath. It can irritate the airways, causing the upper airways to narrow and making it a little harder to breathe even in healthy individuals.
1. Get your drugs titrated: Work with your doctor in advance to optimize medications for the winter months. Patients with asthma who are sensitive to cold air may be asked to use an inhaler; short-acting bronchodilator
2. Moist your nose: A dry nose generally feels like a congested nose, which results in mouth breathing. Regular use of a nasal saline spray help decrease the sense of nasal congestion, which will decrease mouth breathing.
3. Cover your nose and mouth: with a scarf when you're outside. It reduces symptoms by warming the face, warming the air you breathe, and increasing the moisture in the air you breathe
4. Stay indoors: People with respiratory conditions should avoid spending time in the cold whenever possible
5. Avoid exercising in cold as it will further increase the dryness of the airways and potentially increase symptoms or the risk of an asthma attack. The need to move your exercise routine indoors during the winter months is a good opportunity to take an exercise class at a gym, start a home workout program, or join a walking club at a local mall.
6. Adjust the indoor air: Keep the air warm and moist. Don't let the indoor air temperature fall below 64 degree F and use a humidifier to keep the air from becoming too dry.
7. Avoid lung irritants like wood-burning fireplaces
8. Take annual flu shot
9. Complete your pneumonia vaccine protocol
10. Make sure you do not miss heart symptoms as lung symptoms, as both are common in winter.
Dr KK Aggarwal
Padma Shri Awardee
President Confederation of Medical Associations in Asia and Oceania (CMAAO)
Group Editor-in-Chief IJCP Publications
President Heart Care Foundation of India
Past National President IMA
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