With the weather starting to cool down, and a change of seasons on the way, we have put together a few tips to help manage your respiratory condition as we approach the cooler months.
Those with respiratory conditions are more at risk of the flu than most people. Remember, influenza is not the same as the common cold; it’s a serious viral infection that can make pre-existing conditions like asthma, bronchiectasis, or COPD, even worse. To make sure you are protected, get your annual flu vaccination. People with respiratory conditions are prioritised, and may receive the vaccine for free – these are usually available in New Zealand from April each year.
Create a healthy environment
As the weather becomes colder and wetter, it is the perfect environment for the asthma trigger mould to thrive. To help reduce the impact of mould in your home, it is essential that you create a warm, dry indoor environment. This means airing out your home frequently during the day, and wiping down any build up of condensation on your windows.
Autumn brings colder weather, and with that many households use log burners to keep their homes warm. If smoke is one of your triggers, try to avoid it as much as possible. It may help to keep windows and doors closed when neighbours have log fires burning. You could also consider purchasing an air purifier with a HEPA filter to help improve the indoor air quality of your home.
Exercise is a good way to keep fit and healthy. If you are exercising outdoors, we recommend that you check the outdoor temperature first, as the cold air can irritate your lungs. Exercising indoors can be a good alternative on these cooler days. Also, making sure you warm up thoroughly prior to exercise will help reduce the strain on your lungs throughout your workout.
Keep medication on hand
Always carry your reliever inhaler with you (if prescribed) and make sure it is readily available for fast relief of symptoms. If you’re relying on your reliever inhaler more than usual, you should consult your healthcare provider. It is also important that your child has a reliever inhaler at school, kept in a safe place, and their teacher knows what to do if symptoms start to worsen. Sharing your child’s asthma action plan with their teacher is also a good idea.
Breathe in through your nose
On colder days, try breathing through your nose as this will warm up the air before it travels down your lungs, limiting the irritation to your lungs.
Wash your hands
It’s important to emphasise the importance of correct handwashing as this can limit the spread of viruses. Make sure you practice good hand hygiene and regularly wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and warm water.
Chat with your doctor
Creating an asthma action plan with your healthcare provider is the best way to manage your asthma, as it provides a clear plan to manage your symptoms when they are getting worse. You can download action plans from our website or use the digital plan on the ‘My Asthma’ app. Having an action plan in place means that you can take control of your asthma and not let it control you.