How Does Cold Weather Affect Asthma?

Being an asthmatic comes with numerous challenges. Not only does it prevent you from performing various physical activities, but it can get worse at the first sign of the cold season. According to the latest statistics by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA), about 25 million people in the US have asthma, making it 1 of the most common chronic diseases in both adults and kids.

Asthma is a respiratory condition that affects the air pathways and lungs by blocking them with mucus or causing them to swell, according to the Mayo Clinic. As a result, it gets tricky to breathe smoothly and you might experience serious coughing or wheezing. Severe asthma attacks are often accompanied by shortness of breath, making it harder for people to carry out routine tasks. Although it's an incurable condition, with the right medication and preventative measures, the symptoms can be managed to make your life easier.

What causes asthma symptoms in the winter?

Several factors can come into play and cause asthma to become worse as soon as you're exposed to the chilly winter air. Getting hit by cold air can trigger muscle contraction and shrink the air pathways, a condition known as bronchial spasms (via Healthline). The cold air also evaporates the fluid in the air passage, causing intense inflammation. As a result, you might experience increased coughing, breathlessness, irritation, and wheezing.

Additionally, in the winter, colds and the flu are quite common, and both lead to mucus build-up in the air passage. As a result, the breathing passage becomes narrow, resulting in difficulty during inhalation. In severe cases, the blocked pathways could be life-threatening. Statistics from Asthma and Lung UK suggest that around 75% of asthmatics experience aggravated asthma attacks from the flu and colds.

Aside from medications, there are many ways to manage asthma symptoms. According to the Cleveland Clinic, it's best to avoid high-intensity workouts. In the case of the outdoors, make sure you're all bundled up and cozy to limit exposure to the chilly atmosphere. Home humidifiers could be the perfect aid to breathe and prevent irritation from dryness.