Asthma during winter – Follow the precautions to stay safe

By Dr. Hirenappa Udnur, Consultant- Pulmonology, Columbia Asia Hospital Hebbal

Winter is the time of the year when the sun takes a break after the scorching summer and once the monsoon subsides, the cool breeze, pleasing weather often get us motivated for many outdoor activities with minimal sweat. However, this season can be terrifying for asthma patients. Due to the drop in temperature, people with asthma suffer the most as this can trigger severe asthma attacks. The pandemic has worsened the situation for asthma patients as their susceptibility to contracting the COVID virus increases if necessary precautions are not taken.

Asthma is a respiratory disorder that makes the airways narrow leading to difficulty in breathing. It may be due to the exposure to irritants or during winter, the excess secretion of the mucus further constricts the passage making breathing difficult. With the lockdown being lifted, schools and offices reopening, people have started stepping out of the house contributing to air pollution. The rise in air pollution along with the cold weather can worsen the condition further for asthma patients. Also, such persons contracting the coronavirus further aggravates the condition.

Symptoms of asthma:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest tightness
  • Coughing
  • wheezing

When to worry?

  • Difficulty in sleeping and coughing during sleep
  • Weakness during exercise
  • Coughing after exercise
  • Need to use an inhaler more often

People suffering from asthma should also take necessary precautions to safeguard themselves, similar to other people with co-morbidities like heart problems, diabetes, lung issues, etc. Few precautionary methods for asthma patients are:

Continue to take Inhaler regularly: This is to have better control of Asthma and better quality of life.

Wash your hands: Washing hands with water and soap is the best way to control any kind of virus. Sanitizing hands regularly when you are outdoors is recommended to avoid any sort of infection.

Use masks: Wearing masks can help you to cover your nose and mouth to keep away from infections. Also, covering your face with the mask will help you from the wind and the cold air as well.

Keep your house dust-free: Make sure to dust your home frequently to reduce allergens. With few people still continuing to work from home and schools conducting online classes, one needs to be careful about indoor pollution. Maintaining indoor hygiene is very crucial to avoid asthma attacks.

Quit smoking: Quitting smoking is good for all health-related problems

Wear warm clothes outside: Do not expose yourself to the cold weather. Wearing warm clothes when you are stepping out of the house can help conserve body heat.

Avoid outdoor exercise: With the decreasing temperature in early mornings, it is suggested to avoid outdoor activities or walking for asthma patients as it can trigger asthma seizures.

Indoor exercise and warm up before exercise: Regular indoor exercise routine is best to keep fit.

Avoid dust: Avoid exposure to dust, pollen, and other irritants

Know the triggers: One should understand the triggers of asthma so that they can avoid it.

Medications: Taking the prescribed medications regularly can help in managing asthma seizures.

Diet: It is important to follow a healthy diet plan rich in nutrients and protein. Including immunity increasing food will help keep infections at bay.

Asthma may not be considered a serious condition by most people. However, asthma associated with other infections can increase the risk factor. Consulting the doctor as soon as you face any difficulty in breathing is crucial. Hospitals are taking all precautions for the patient’s safety.

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