November 18, 2020
Managing Asthma in the Winter Months
Alison Barney, MA personal health coach, OSU Health Plan Health Coach

Asthma and other breathing problems can be affected by different seasons. For some, the winter months can make it hard to control breathing and even make it hard to be active and exercise in the cold weather. Colder air is usually dryer and this can irritate and swell airways making it harder to breathe. In addition, cold air often causes an increase in histamine that can trigger wheezing and other asthma symptoms. If you find it hard to manage your symptoms with the change in seasons, check out these tips to help.

  • Stay indoors. When temperatures are very low (below 10°F), it's usually best to stay inside. If you are unable to stay in, place a covering, such as a scarf, over your nose and mouth to warm up the air you are breathing.
  • Drink plenty of water. When you are hydrated, increased mucus that can form during cold weather is thinner and more easily cleared and removed from your body.
  • Clean your home. With being inside more, you may be exposed more to dust and allergens in your home that can make symptoms worse. Prepare by regularly vacuuming and dusting to limit your exposure as much as possible. Also, change your furnace filter before switching on the heat!
  • Take exercise indoors.  If exercising outdoors, make sure to warm up for at least 5 to 10 minutes and use any medications as prescribed about 10 to 15 minutes prior to help open your airways.
  • Practice cold and flu prevention strategies. Getting your flu shot, cleaning your hands often, and not touching your face can help prevent you from getting sick, which can make your asthma worse.
  • Work with your doctor. Prior to winter, make sure you are on a good plan to manage your asthma with your physician. 

Care Coordination helps Ohio State faculty, staff, and their family members better manage their chronic health condition, improve their health and save money. If you or someone in your family have Asthma or COPD and have Ohio State health insurance, you might be eligible for the Care Coordination Program


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