Winter months with cold and dry air bring many problems for people with asthma. When the temperature drops, a pattern of aggravated wheezing, chest tightness, coughing, and shortness of breath sets in.

Apart from many, the seasonal aggravation of symptoms is a common disease feature. Recognizing how winter weather affects lung function can help patients with a proper prevention plan. 

This article highlights the 5 reasons asthmatics experience shortness of breath with the autumn-to-winter change. The story goes on while being ready is half of the battle of defeating cold air and keeping your lungs healthy during the whole winter.

Are asthma symptoms different in the winter than in other months?

Asthma patients experience the same types of symptoms year-round. Such as:

  • coughing,
  • wheezing,
  • chest tightness and
  • shortness of breath –

But, there is often a significant worsening of symptom frequency and severity during winter. When ambient temperatures drop, many individuals experience more pronounced and frequent nighttime awakenings due to bronchospasm. Increased reliance on rescue bronchodilators is also common in cold weather.

Why Is Asthma In Winter Season Worse? | 5 Reasons

Asthma is difficult to deal with, and winters affect asthma adversely. There are five major culprits. Here, we will explore those:

  • Dry Air

Indoor heating systems blast away moisture from the air inside homes and offices during winter. Noses normally warm and humidify inhaled air before it travels to the lungs, but these dry conditions impair this natural process. Dry air crossing inflamed airways provokes bronchospasm, edema and increased mucus production. Nerve endings left exposed by depleted moisture also overreact to harmless airborne particles. Hacking coughs wheezes late at night, and air hunger upon awakening often ensue.

  • Temperature Changes

Frigid outdoor air inhaled directly into the lungs triggers spasms of the smooth muscles lining the bronchial tubes. Scientists think this response originally evolved to protect the airways against damage from freezing temperatures. But in asthmatics, transient narrowing causes significant struggles to breathe. The sudden switch between bone-chilling outdoor air and blasting indoor heat further strains the respiratory system.

  • Infections

Colds, flu, and sinus bugs flare up more often in winter, producing inflammation throughout the respiratory tract. Swelling robs asthma patients of the remaining reserve airway caliber needed to cope with their existing limitations. Coughs turn wet and productive while once tolerable weather now poses threats of scary wheezing attacks or pronounced shortness of breath.

  • Exercise Challenges

Vigorous exertion amps up oxygen demands, but frigid winter air makes gas exchange less efficient. Attempting activity outdoors doubles the dilemma – airways clamp down from hyperventilation while simultaneously confronting cold stress. Asthmatics often find themselves sidelined as seasonal athletes due to the combined toll of aerobic demands and inhospitable climatic conditions. Prevention revolves around altering workout routines to accommodate asthma’s special constraints.

  • Weather Shifts

Sudden dips or spikes in temperature, humidity, wind, or precipitation may catch lung tissue “off guard”. Bronchioles already strained by baseline inflammation can decompensate rapidly. Barometric pressure changes during storms also influence breathing for many. Keeping abreast of volatile forecasts allows asthmatics to mitigate risks by adjusting medication or activity levels accordingly. A personalized written asthma action plan facilitates responsiveness to quirky weather patterns.

How Can You Prevent Asthma In The Winter Season?

Asthma patients can implement several lifestyle and medical strategies to reduce seasonal exacerbations:

  • Avoid Triggers
  1. Remain vigilant for mold growth indoors and remediate any dampness issues
  2. Cover nose and mouth with a scarf or mask outdoors
  3. Steer clear of other known personal asthma triggers like smoke, strong scents or pets
  4. Wash hands frequently and minimize interactions with sick individuals
  • Adjust Medications
  1. Have fast-acting bronchodilator medication available at all times
  2. Discuss increasing the dosage or frequency of anti-inflammatory controller medications
  3. Follow written asthma action plans guiding the usage of medicines
  4. Promptly treat any respiratory infections to short-circuit inflammation
  • Hydrate Airways
  1. Employ a humidifier, especially in bedrooms
  2. Drink plenty of hydrating, decaffeinated fluids
  3. Breathe through the nose as much as possible
  • Exercise Cautiously
  1. Transition to vigorous fitness activities indoors
  2. Cover mouth and nose when active outside
  3. Gradually warm up and cool down to transition airways
  • Check Forecasts
  1. Note whether projections for temperature, precipitation, and wind
  2. Layer clothing appropriately when heading out
  3. Modify plans if weather poses a high risk for attacks

Partner with Asthma Specialist Dr Sheetu Singh

Specialized medical guidance may be warranted if the winter season leaves your asthma difficult to control despite meticulous preventive efforts. Asthma specialist Dr Virendra Singh can help stabilize winter symptoms through customized treatment plans. Even if acute attacks erupt, Dr Virendra Singh has extensive experience finding triggers and modifying care to restore lung function. Why struggle alone when expert input could make all the difference? Let Dr Virendra Singh help you claim victory over seasonal asthma woes!