Winter, the most loved season of many, is around the corner, and so are the concerns of asthma patients due to the infections and distress that accompany the cold months. Though winter is a relief for several individuals, it is also a stress for the millions of asthma patients.
The increase in carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations and greenhouse gases in the atmosphere lowers the temperature, barometric pressure, and humidity levels, thereby increasing the sensitivity of the air pathways to various triggers, such as respiratory viruses (common cold virus), pollutants (ozone and cigarette smoke), airborne allergens (animal dander, pollens, and molds) and exercise, (particularly in the cold and dry environment). This induces an inflammatory reaction in the airways leading to the swelling and narrowing of their lining, which then leads to the blockage of the airways due to the building up of sticky mucus or phlegm. This, in turn, makes breathing difficult and forced for asthmatic patients. The other common symptoms that patients experience during this season are sneezing, wheezing, cough, a stuffed nose, chest tightness, and increased mucus production.
No matter whether you are outdoors or indoors, the triggers can exacerbate asthma attacks in the winter making it the unpleasant season for the respiratory patients.
Though asthma is an incurable condition, it is an eminently controllable disease for most patients, wherein effective control is as significant as a cure to a larger extent.
Winter-induced or associated asthma can be very well controlled and managed effectively with natural remedies, certain lifestyle modifications, and precise homeopathic treatment.
What Healthy Habits Can Help Asthma Patients Maintain Good Health In Winter?
The two main issues for asthma patients to deal with in the winter are cold, dry air and recurrent sinus and upper respiratory infections, either of which can trigger or worsen asthma attacks.
Below are a few healthy tips and recommendations for you to keep yourself as healthy as possible since following simple small things makes the biggest difference.
7 Healthy Tips For Asthma Patients To Maintain Good Health In The Winter
- Maintain Good Hygiene
Maintaining good hygiene is the most important step to be taken care of during the winters to prevent the spread of infections, particularly at the workplace with split air conditioners and while traveling, as an individual having any infections can transmit to others in a 3-10 feet distance. Whenever the affected person coughs or sneezes, respiratory waste is expelled in the atmosphere in the form of droplets that affect the others. Wearing a simple mask would be helpful in this case.
In regards to the hygiene at home, prefer to keep your windows open. The constant exchange of air can prevent the spread of infections. In the rooms having air conditioners (ACs), there is no air exchange, so it may spread the infection from one person to another. So, choose to keep the windows of your home open to avoid the spread of infections. Also, keep your home clean, dry, and humidified. Even indoors, the air can be very dry. So, a humidifier may help ease breathing. Just be sure that the reservoirs and filters are clean.
Maintain a clean environment. Vacuum daily or weekly to keep the dust, mites, and other allergens from settling in your home. Keep your fireplace well-maintained and vented.
When it comes to self-hygiene, keep your hands clean and away from your face, as it can also transfer cold and flu viruses, which got on your hand when you touch things, such as a door handles, walls, etc., into your bodies through your mouth, nose, or eyes. Wash your hands properly with antibacterial soap or hand-wash to keep them clean. Use a hand sanitizer or wet wipes when you’re out and about.
- Exercise Regularly
Exercise indoors and limit outdoor exercise, particularly on the bitterly cold days, whether you are or not suffering from asthma, as exercising outdoors in extreme cold can lead to shortness of breath. Exercising in an indoor gymnasium or going for an indoor fitness class would be the best in this scenario. However, if you still want to exercise in the fresh (albeit cold) air, choose a time of day when it might be warmer, such as the midafternoon. Listen to the weather forecasts before stepping out, and sport a scarf or gaiter to cover your mouth when outside to protect your airways by warming the air before you breathe in.
- Avoid Triggers:
Avoiding environmental triggers, such as dust mites, cigarette smoke, roach antigens, and dander from warm-blooded pets, such as cats and dogs, helps to minimize the airway inflammation.
- Take Care Of Your Nutrition:
Nutrition plays an important part to safeguard you from this immunity disorder. Here are some nutrition tips to follow to avoid an asthma attack.
- Have caffeinated black or green tea and black coffee, as these beverages work as an effective bronchodilator and help open the airways particularly in emergency cases.
- Vitamin C helps in maintaining your lungs powerful. So, a glass of orange juice 3-5 times a week would be beneficial.
- Omega-3 fatty acids found in foods, such as nuts, fish, and flax seeds, is also beneficial for asthma patient, as it works to cleanse out the lungs.
- Honey, basil leaves, and ginger help to eliminate the allergic discomfort and asthma symptoms stimulating the immune system.
- Avoid processed foods, white flour, and sugar to prevent asthma attacks, as these foods block the airways with the production of phlegm.
- Avoid canned juices, sodas, and cold drinks, as these contain additives/artificial food colors.
- Have zinc supplements to flush out the allergens from your body.
- Do Not Breathe From Your Mouth
Air gets warm before it reaches the lungs when you breathe from your mouth, but, breathing colder air from the mouth is likely to trigger an attack of asthma.
- Follow The Proper Asthma Action Plan
Discuss the action plan for your asthma with an experienced asthma specialist or your doctor. You should be aware of the steps to follow as a remedy when the asthma episodes flare up, how to control it in the long run, when to call your doctor, and when to go to the ER. And, following the appropriate treatment is very important, regardless of the busy schedule. Talk to your doctor about the possible change in the medications you need, when you think your asthma symptoms worsen during the cold weather.
- Precautions For Asthma Patients To Take
- Stay away from very cold areas.
- Keep yourself warm and exercise regularly.
- Always carry your relief-inhaler with you (if you have asthma or COPD).
- Do not sit near the fireplace.
- Stay away from incense sticks, and keep emergency medicine with you, particularly when traveling by air. Air travelers with nasal/sinus symptoms can keep a nasal steroid/antihistamine spray handy.
- Stay far away from smokers (passive smoke is quite bad, if not worse than active smoking).
To summarize, certain attitudinal advances have proven to be effective in managing this life-threatening condition substantially in the past years, thereby providing more efficient and healthier ways to control it. It may take a little more effort to keep your asthma under control in the cold weather of winter, but these techniques will get you through the season without worsening the symptoms. Even if a cure is not on the horizon, your asthma can be almost completely under control.