Winter can bring about a raft of triggers for those with asthma and allergies. We have compiled a list of helpful tips to help manage your asthma during these colder months.
Although we are now back to Alert Level 1, hand washing is still incredibly important to help reduce other virally transmitted diseases like colds and flu. Make sure you wash your hands regularly throughout the day for at least 20 seconds with soap and water to help reduce your exposure. Another alternative is to use hand sanitiser with a high alcohol percentage to eliminate any bacteria or virus on your hands.
Some asthmatics find that different emotions cause their asthma to flare up, and with the compounding lack of sunshine during the W] winter months, this can often contribute to depression. Remember that it is just as important to take care of your mental well-being as well as your physical well-being. If you find yourself struggling to balance your emotions, speak to your GP who will be able to help or refer you to appropriate organisations.
It is important to fuel your body with vitamins and nutrients. Fruits and vegetables are rich in both these and will help boost your immune system. Try to buy seasonal vegetables that are high in fibre and nutrients. Drinking eight glasses of water a day is also very beneficial for your heath. You can also add flavour to your water with hot or cold fusion herbal teas. Water has been found to thin the mucus in your lungs, so your body is able to remove it easier.
Exercise is good for your body and mental health, but exercising outdoors in winter can trigger asthma in some people. For those with respiratory conditions, it is recommended to perform light exercise indoors so the harsh, cold air does not irritate or inflame your lungs.
The flu vaccine is available FREE to those with a chronic respiratory condition and appointments are prioritised for these people.
Ensure you are taking your medication, as prescribed and directed by your healthcare provider. It is important to make sure you take your maintenance medication (if prescribed) even when you are feeling well, as this will reduce your reliance on your reliever medication.
If you know your triggers, try to avoid these if possible, or take steps to reduce their impact. Pollen, animal fur, and smoke are common triggers for many people. Help reduce your exposure to pollen by staying indoors when it’s windy, keep your windows closed at night and early morning, and avoid high pollen areas such as parks, farms, and golf courses.
Wearing a scarf around your mouth is helpful when you are outside in the cold, to help prevent asthma symptoms. As the cold air evaporates, the thin layer of fluid that lines your airways dries faster than it can be replaced. Dry airways become irritated and swollen which worsen asthma symptoms. If you breathe through your nose, this may also help as it helps warm up the air before it enters the lungs.
Triggers such as dust, mould and animal fur can linger around your household and contribute to asthma flare-ups. To help combat this, try to clean your home as often as you can with asthma and allergy-sensitive products. It is also advised to vacuum regularly to remove indoor allergens with a HEPA filtered vacuum, wash bed sheets and blankets in hot water to get rid of dust mites and replace filters on heat pumps and air conditioners frequently.