About one in every 12 Iowans has asthma and winter can be the worst season for many sufferers, as simply breathing cold air can trigger an asthma attack. Being cooped up indoors can be difficult too, with exposure to triggers like pet dander and smoke.
Allergist Dr. David Slade offers tips on keeping your asthma symptoms in check.
“If at all possible, try not to use or be around things like wood-burning stoves, even kerosene heaters or fireplaces, just to avoid the strong odors or chemicals they that they produce,” Slade says. “It’s also important to avoid things like irritating sprays, hairspray, indoor air fresheners.”
Slade says there are ways other actions you — and others — can take to better cope.
“Ask your family members to try to limit their use of perfumes or anything with a strong scent,” he says. “The most important thing is that if you have asthma and you smoke, the best thing you can do is quit and ask people not to smoke around you.”
If you’ve been inside where it’s warm, simply going outside and having the super-cold air hit your lungs could bring on an episode. Slade says it’s important to cover your nose and mouth with a scarf when you’re outdoors, especially on very cold, windy days.
“If you’re thinking of fun things to do outside this winter, try to plan them when you’ll have the least exposure to your asthma triggers,” Slade says. “Keep an eye on the weather so that you can monitor your asthma by tracking days that symptoms most occur.”
Also, he says to talk with your doctor on developing a plan that really keeps your symptoms under control and establish a routine that works best for you.