Winter can be a difficult time for those with a respiratory condition, as the cold can exacerbate symptoms. We’ve put together a few tips to help you manage your respiratory condition through the winter months.
The flu vaccine is available at your GP and local pharmacy, and is free for those over 65 years of age, pregnant women, or those with eligible medical conditions. Having a respiratory condition doesn’t make you more susceptible to getting the flu - but it does mean that if you get the flu, you may have more severe symptoms.
If you know your triggers, try to avoid these if possible, or take steps to reduce their impact. One common trigger that can be a bigger issue in the winter months is damp and mould. If this is the case for you, try to avoid drying clothes inside, and use extractor fans in the kitchen and bathroom.
When you are outdoors in the cold winter air, be sure to breathe through your nose instead of your mouth, as this heats up the air before it travels into your lungs.
Wearing a scarf over your mouth can also be helpful when you’re out and about in cold weather, as it helps to 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 can worsen asthma symptoms. Having a scarf over your mouth helps the air to warm up before it enters your airways.
Sometimes even the air indoors can be dry, so a humidifier may help you breathe more easily. To see a range of humidifiers that benefit those with asthma and allergies, you can visit sensitivechoice.com. sure you take your maintenance medication (if prescribed) even when you are feeling well, as this will reduce your reliance on your reliever medication.
It is important to fuel your body with vitamins and nutrients. Fruits and vegetables are both rich in these and will help boost your immune system. Exercising is also a great way to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Make sure to warm up properly and monitor your breathing throughout.
To better manage your asthma, you can work with your healthcare practitioner to prepare an Asthma Action Plan. The plan acts as a quick reference guide with details regarding which medication to take when you are experiencing certain symptoms, and helps prevent an asthma emergency. You can downland your own plan in Te Reo Māori, Samoan, Simplified Chinese or English for free on the resources tab at asthmafoundation.org.nz.
Thunderstorm asthma had previously been considered unlikely to occur in New Zealand due to our weather patterns not thought to pose a risk. However, recent climate changes have challenged this perception, with New Zealand experiencing its first thunderstorm asthma event in 2017.