Breathe Better: 8 Rules for Managing Asthma and COPD in Winter
The blasts of arctic cold temperatures we’ve had in North Carolina this winter have been especially hard for anyone who has asthma or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). Both of these respiratory conditions can be made worse by the cold weather. In fact, a six-year research study showed a direct link between cold weather and an increase in hospital admissions for COPD patients.
Why Cold Weather Makes Symptoms Worse
Lower temperatures can narrow blood vessels, which in turn restricts the flow of oxygen and causes the heart and lungs to work harder. This can lead to shortness of breath and fatigue. In addition, the winter air can be a much lower temperature than the body’s organs, shocking the lungs when they are filled with a breath of frigid air.
Manage Better in Winter Air
These eight rules can help patients with asthma or COPD better manage their condition in the winter.
- Use a scarf or facemask over your nose and mouth and breathe through your nose when going outside. This will help warm the air before it reaches your lungs.
- Exercise indoors instead of outdoors.
- If you have an inhaler, use it 10 – 15 minutes before you leave the house or exercise.
- Always keep an emergency inhaler with you.
- If using oxygen, keep your oxygen hose under your coat to ensure the air stays warm.
- Keeping nasal passages clear with irrigation or saline spray can help reduce symptoms.
- Stay indoors when the weather is extremely cold or when your symptoms are bothersome.
- Don’t burn wood in stoves or fireplaces. The smoke can irritate the lungs.
Hopefully the guidelines above can help ease any extra irritation or breathing problems you may be having due to cold weather.
Get Expert Pulmonary Care at LeBauer
The pulmonologists at LeBauer use the latest knowledge about asthma and COPD to help patients manage symptoms. Our team of 17 specially trained pulmonologists offer care in both in Greensboro at the Elam Avenue office and in Burlington in the Medical Arts Building on the campus of Alamance Regional Medical Center on Huffman Mill Road.