How to Prevent Cold Weather Related Asthma Flare-Ups
Millions of people around the world suffer from asthma and asthma flare-ups. Its severity can range from bothersome to life-threatening and asthma attacks can strike at any moment. With that in mind, people living with asthma need to be constantly vigilant for things that may trigger their condition.
During the winter months in many parts of the country, people with asthma may find that they have a harder time breathing than normal. This is often due to cold outdoor temperatures that trigger asthma flare-ups.
Given the seriousness of asthma, it’s important to know how to prevent these exacerbations. Moreover, it’s a good idea to know how things like COVID-19 and the flu, which are more common in the winter, affect asthma. This article will cover both topics and also offer suggestions on when to seek care for an asthma flare-up. Let’s dive in.
What is Asthma?
According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, more than 25 million Americans have asthma. Although asthma is a complex condition, it primarily affects the air passages in your lungs.
Inflammation causes these small openings, called bronchioles, to constrict. In turn, it gets harder to breathe. In the case of a severe asthma attack, these passages may be blocked entirely, preventing air from getting into your lungs. This is a medical emergency and can result in death within minutes if not treated.
Fortunately, most asthma-related deaths are preventable with the right routine management and emergency interventions. This includes things like avoiding triggers, taking medications as prescribed, and knowing how to treat an asthma attack.
Why Does Cold Weather Make Asthma Worse?
Many things can make asthma symptoms worse by causing inflammation in the lungs. Inhaling cold air during the winter can irritate your bronchioles, causing them to constrict. In the lungs of someone with asthma, this can trigger a full-blown asthma attack or simply make it more difficult to breathe. Either way, something needs to be done to fix the problem.
On top of this, when it is cold out, most people spend more time indoors. Although this means you’re less likely to have a flare-up due to cold air, it does open the door (no pun intended) to other triggers. Things like dust mites, mold, and dander from pets can also trigger asthma. When you’re spending more time inside, it’s more likely that these things will irritate your lungs.
How COVID and the Flu Affect Asthma
Currently, everyone is focused on the COVID-19 pandemic. Now that winter is beginning, flu season is also ramping up towards its peak. Although it’s important for everyone to take precautionary measures against these diseases, people with asthma need to be even more careful. Respiratory infections like the flu and COVID-19 cause inflammation in the lungs. This can make breathing difficult even for healthy individuals. However, for someone with asthma, the combined effects can be deadly.
Inflammation from COVID-19 or the flu can trigger spasms in the bronchioles, cutting off airflow and leading to a serious asthma attack. Moreover, those with asthma are more likely to be hospitalized after getting the flu or COVID-19.
How to Prevent Winter Asthma Flare-Ups
Although it isn’t possible to totally avoid asthma triggers, there are some things you can do to decrease your risk. Following these tips can lead to a healthier, safer winter for those with asthma:
- Avoid prolonged trips outside in low temperatures
- Cover your mouth and nose with a scarf when outdoors to help warm the air you breathe
- Get your flu and COVID-19 vaccines to prevent these illnesses
- Keep your house clean and free of dust and utilize dust mite covers on your bedding
- Know your asthma action plan and keep up to date on all maintenance medications your doctor has prescribed
When to Seek Care for an Asthma Flare-Up?
When an asthma attack occurs, every minute is vital. This is why having an asthma action plan is so important. It allows you to quickly respond if you or a loved one is suffering from an asthma attack.
Of course, it’s better to seek care before getting to that point. If you notice that your asthma symptoms are starting to get worse as the seasons change, it’s a good idea to check in with your doctor. Keep an eye out for things like difficulty breathing, coughing, and wheezing.
A visit to the doctor could help prevent a severe asthma attack from occurring. They can prescribe maintenance medications and offer tips to avoid triggers that may make your asthma worse.
Velocity Urgent Care Is Here to Help
If your asthma is worse this winter, Velocity Urgent Care has your back. Our friendly, board-certified providers will review your symptoms and medical history and perform a thorough exam before determining the best treatment.
From there, we can prescribe medications to get you back on your feet and recommend ways to manage your asthma symptoms. If more intense care is necessary, we can also refer you to a specialist within the Sentara Healthcare network.
In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are taking serious safety precautions to ensure that our locations are as clean as possible. We’ve put strict sterilization protocols into place and are carefully handling patients who may be contagious to ensure that each one of our clinics is safe for those who need urgent medical care or occupational health services.
Skip the Waiting Room
Velocity Urgent Care offers convenient online registration that helps you limit your contact with others during a visit. You can sign up for an appointment online ahead of time and arrive when it’s time to be seen to skip the waiting room. We even offer text message updates so you can wait in the car (if you prefer) until it’s time for your appointment.
Velocity Urgent Care is an in-network provider for most major insurance plans, meaning you can be seen for the cost of your co-pay and deductible. All of our locations also accept Medicare, Medicaid, and Tricare. Veterans Administration beneficiaries are also welcome.
To find out more about our services, locations, hours, and more, visit www.velocity.com.