Another Winter Illness: Worsened Asthma Symptoms

October 25, 2010

Asthma is a respiratory illness where inflammation causes muscles around the bronchial airways in your lungs to tighten, the lining of the airways to swell, and more mucus to be produced, so that a coughing (wheezing) fit is induced.

Unfortunately, of the many things that can trigger asthma symptoms or make them worse is cold air, and unless you live in a tropical climate, it’s an unavoidable part of winter.

Other triggers of asthma include:

  • Allergies (Dust, mold, pet dander…)
  • Physical Activity
  • Stress
  • Heartburn

Asthma is thought to be caused by a combination of environmental and genetic factors. While there is no easy cure for asthma, Doctors have a range of drugs that they prescribe to help eliminate and manage symptoms. In addition to working with your doctor, there are a number of lifestyle changes and additions you can make to help ease your asthma:

  • Avoid environmental triggers like dust, smoke, and exhaust as best you can.
    • Clean your home frequently to avoid the build up of dust, mold, and other tracked in pathogens.
  • Try to reduce your overall stress, and practice ways to deal with sudden stressors.
  • Maintain a healthy weight. The rise of obesity may be tied to the rise of asthma, and being overweight can worsen your symptoms.
    • Although exercise is more difficult with asthma, strengthening your lungs and heart may benefit you. Try and find a warm environment and start gently.
    • Nutrition is important no matter what aspect of your health you’re worried about. Antioxidants (found in fruits, vegetables, and supplements), and other anti-inflammatories (Omega-3, evening primrose oil) may help reduce inflammation.
    • Try supplementing a protein shake (with loads of fruit, and maybe a little honey, if you aren’t allergic–eating local honey may help reduce allergies) for a meal if you need to lose weight.
  • Use a face mask (or scarf wrapped around the bottom half of your face) to minimize your exposure to the cold.

Although asthma is a very manageable condition, make sure to work with a doctor to observe lung health, and to make sure symptoms don’t get worse.

Symptoms for asthma include:

  • Wheezing
  • General shortness of breath/difficulty breathing
    • Difficulty breathing out
  • A tightness or pain in the chest

If you have a prolonged asthma fit, turn blue, or aren’t breathing, you should go to a hospital.

And the Symptoms of asthma may have the effect of:

  • Being worse in the morning and at night
    • difficulty sleeping
  • Having a sudden onset
  • Permanently affecting the lungs and airways

What are your most common asthma triggers & how do you avoid them?

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