When the temperatures go down in fall and winter, asthma and COPD symptoms are often on the rise. Fortunately, there are a number of practical steps you can take to maximize your respiratory comfort during these colder months.
During cold weather, indoor air can often become very dry because of heating systems, causing the respiratory system to dry out as well. Drinking plenty of fluids will help ensure that your lungs and respiratory pathways will have the moisture they need to function properly and block out allergens.
Purify and Humidify Indoor Air
Indoor air quality can be greatly improved in the winter with the use of a HEPA filter and humidifier. Using these devices will remove allergens and provide soothing moisture.
Smoke, whether from cigarettes or wood-burning stoves, can cause significant irritation to the lungs, particularly among those suffering from asthma and COPD. Take steps to cut back or quit smoking, and avoid using wood-burning stoves whenever possible.
Keep the Chill Out of Your Lungs
While spending time outdoors on extremely chilly days, it is a good idea to cover your mouth and nose with a scarf to avoid breathing in very cold air, which can often be a trigger for respiratory flare ups.
Fall and winter are often times when airborne bacteria and viruses can cause more outbreaks of colds and the flu than other times of the year. The amount of time spent indoors with others who might be sick, coupled with dry indoor air, are thought to be the reasons more people get colds and flu in the fall and winter. This can be especially troublesome for asthma and COPD sufferers, and cause an increase in the frequency and severity of symptoms. Because of this, shield yourself from colds and the flu by frequent hand-washing and getting plenty of vitamin C. You may also want to ask your doctor about getting the flu vaccine.
Take Your Medications
This time of year, it's especially important to take your respiratory medications on schedule. If you use a nebulizer, be sure to replace your nebulizer kits regularly to ensure optimal functioning. Your doctor may also suggest carrying an emergency inhaler if you experience symptoms away from home.