Does your child struggle more with their asthma during the holiday season? This could be due to stress or possibly the artificial holiday scents, but it’s most likely because of the cold weather.
Cold Weather Asthma
During the colder months of the year, children with asthma often find it harder to breathe. Cold Weather Asthma is a condition associated with asthma that is affected by air temperature and humidity.
In Winter, the air is cold and crisp, but also very dry. Breathing in the cold, dry air can cause irritation to the lungs, causing them to become inflamed making it harder to take deep breaths, therefore leading to an asthma attack.
What’s happening in your child’s body?
When your child’s airways come into contact with cold air, their body releases a chemical called Histamine. This is the same chemical released during an allergic reaction. During an allergic reaction, it can cause swelling, itchiness, and trouble breathing. Histamine can cause the lungs to swell making the airways tighter. When their airways are tight it makes it harder to take a good breath, which can result in an asthma attack.
What about winter sports?
Participating in winter sports can also be very challenging with asthma. When someone exercises they tend to breathe more deeply through their mouth instead of their nose. When your child breathes through their nose, the air gets warmed and moistened by their airways before reaching the lungs. Instead, when they breathe through their mouth, the air remains cold and dry, which can act as an asthma trigger.
Tips to help prevent Cold Weather Asthma
Even though it can be challenging during winter for those with asthma, here are a few things that you can do as a parent to help your child enjoy this time of year.
If possible, don’t let your child go outside if the temperature drops below 10° F. If they have to go outside, be sure they wear warm, weather-appropriate clothing. One thing that should also be considered is wearing a scarf or fabric mask over the face. Wearing one of these over the mouth and nose can help prevent Winter Asthma by warming the air before it reaches the lungs.
Use your inhaler
If your child plans on exercising or playing outside in the cold weather, be sure to have them use their inhaler at least 15-30 minutes before they go outside. This will open their airways, making it easier for them to breathe in the cold air.
Also, be sure to have their inhaler nearby while they are outside. Even though they took their inhaler ahead of time, they could still experience an asthma attack from extreme cold. Either have them keep it in their pocket if they’re responsible, or hold onto it yourself and monitor their activity.
Keep an Asthma Log
Knowing how your child’s breathing patterns change before an asthma attack can help you identify when one may be imminent.
Building up this storehouse of information will not only help you, but it will also assist your doctor in determining the best way to approach the care of your asthma. Generally, doctors recommend keeping a log as part of your asthma action plan. The more symptoms, triggers and events that are tracked allow the doctor to have meaningful insights on your child's overall health.
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