Winter is a tough time of year for plenty of reasons, especially for people with asthma. Cold weather dries out the air and triggers respiratory issues. You also have to battle the seasonal flu and be concerned about COVID-19.
Use these tips to prevent asthma attacks and defeat the winter blues. When you can breathe comfortably, it’s easier to enjoy beautiful snow flurries and the occasional snowball fight with your loved ones.
1. Get Your Flu Shot
Toward the end of summer, pharmacies and doctors’ offices start posting signs about getting your flu shot. It’s essential to get vaccinated every fall or winter to protect yourself from seasonal viruses, but people with asthma should take their flu shot even more seriously.
Asthma doesn’t make you more susceptible to the flu — it can make it much worse by inflaming the airways and lungs. You might need hospitalization if influenza makes it difficult to breathe and triggers an asthma attack. Get your flu shot even if it’s late in the season to prevent dire respiratory emergencies.
2. Replace Your Air Filters
Experts recommend that people change household HVAC filters every 60-90 days, but you can replace them even more frequently in the winter. Allergens and dust cause clogs when you spend more time indoors to avoid the cold weather. If they block the filter mesh and the HVAC unit forces it through to circulate your indoor air, you’ll breathe the same irritants and increase your chances of an attack.
3. Upgrade Your House Cleaning
Taking your cleaning routine more seriously makes your home a safer place to live and breathe. Floating irritants drift around the house before settling on surfaces already covered in bacteria and viruses. Upgrading your housekeeping can make a huge difference.
Wipe down your ceiling fans and clean mold off windows that collect condensation. Find a UV lamp that kills 99% of airborne germs that will irritate your lungs. Even one simple change will make it easier to breathe during the season when viruses thrive.
4. Avoid The Fireplace
While it’s tempting to cuddle up in front of the fireplace, the smoke will inflame asthma symptoms. It irritates the lungs whether it’s from a fireplace, cigarette or grill. If you want to light a fire, sit back from the flames and put it out if you feel a tickle starting in your lungs. It’s an extra precaution people with asthma should take this winter when they’re more likely to encounter crackling fires.
5. Wash Your Hands Correctly
You might still get the winter flu because you touched your nose or mouth with dirty hands. Rinse germs away by washing your hands correctly with soap and water. Scrubbing the backs of your hands and in between your fingers will make a big difference in protecting you from getting sick.
Scrub your hands clean after going out in public or touching shared surfaces. The soap will loosen the germs on your hands and keep you from getting sick with the flu or pneumonia.
6. Set Medication Reminders
People with severe asthma may take daily medications to prevent attacks. Setting reminders is the easiest thing you can do to help yourself this winter. If you never skip a dose, you’ll have all the protection you need against airborne irritants.
Talk with your doctor if you struggle to take your medicine even with daily reminders and alarms. It could be time to try a simplified prescription or another treatment route.
Take Extra Asthma Precautions This Winter
These are just a few extra precautions people with asthma should take this winter, so see if they make a difference in your daily health. Something as simple as cleaning your house more thoroughly might make you more comfortable while you’re cooped up until spring.
Emily is a freelance writer, covering conservation and sustainability. You can read her blog, Conservation Folks, for more of her work.