Managing Asthma Triggers in the Winter

Winter is here and with it comes cold and flu season and for people with asthma, additional challenges. If you have asthma it is very important to take precautions to lower your chances of having asthma problems. Taking an active role in your asthma care will help in preventing asthma problems.

It’s not too late to get the flu vaccine. The flu is a respiratory virus and the most common cause for asthma flare ups this time of the year. Talk to your healthcare provider if you have questions or concerns about getting a flu shot.

Here are 10 tips to help you manage your asthma in the winter.

1. Take your daily asthma control medications as prescribed. To keep your asthma well controlled during winter, daily controller medications are important. Do not stop taking your asthma controller. This helps to lower the chances of having asthma problems in the winter.

2.  Have your rescue inhaler available at all times. Take it with you whenever you leave the house. Look at the expiration date and be sure your inhaler is not expired. Let your healthcare provider know if you need refills on any of your asthma medicines.

3. Wear a scarf or mask to cover your nose and mouth to avoid breathing cold wintery air. If you need to shovel snow or walk from your car into the store on a cold day, breathing cold air can make your chest feel wheezy and tight. Children with asthma should wear a scarf or mask to prevent asthma problems when playing outside on a cold day

4. Avoid use of indoor deodorizers, air fresheners, scents, sprays and all smoke types. During the winter we spend more time indoors where odors and smoke, even fireplace smoke, can be an asthma trigger.

5. Keep house dust at a minimum. House dust tends to collect in our homes during the winter. If you have an allergy to dust, vacuuming and damp dusting once a week will lower dust accumulation in your home.

6. Let your health care provider know if you are using your rescue inhaler more than twice a week. This could be a signs that your asthma is getting worse.

7. Have a written Asthma Action Plan. An Asthma Action Plan is a guide that tells you what to do if your asthma begins to flare up. If your asthma does flare up and is not better within 2 days call your healthcare provider. He or she can prescribe other medications before your asthma gets worse.

8. Wash your hands several times during the day. This will keep germs down and lower your risk of getting sick.

9. Stay indoors on very cold days. Watch a movie, do some laundry or read a book when the weather gets really cold. Keeping safe and warm at home can protect you from having asthma problems.

10. Schedule an asthma check up with your health care provider.  If you haven’t seen your doctor or asthma specialist in a while it’s a good idea to get an asthma checkup. Just like making sure your blood pressure is OK, your asthma needs to be checked at least once a year.

Make an appointment today! Visit www.indyhealthnet.org for more information!

Post by Dan Wilson, RRT, CPFT, AE-C

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