As winter rolls on, it’s important to consider your asthma, and how to manage the triggers that come up during the cold months.
For people with asthma, cold and dry winter air can trigger flare-ups. This cold weather can also be accompanied by other common triggers such as colds, flu, viruses (including COVID-19), dust and fires.
According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, asthma sufferers are more likely to be hospitalised during the winter months. This is due to the temperature, as well as the level of moisture in the air.
Common winter colds and flu can have significant impacts on the airways of people with asthma. Colds and flu can increase redness and irritation of the airways. These common viruses can lead to more severe symptoms, which can result in hospital admissions.
What is asthma?
Asthma is a medical condition that affects the airways. Occasionally sufferers find it harder to breathe in and out due to the airways becoming narrower. It has been compared to trying to breathe through a straw.
There is currently no cure for asthma. It can be well controlled with medication, regular check-ups and a comprehensive action plan. Most people with asthma can have an active and healthy life.
How to manage your asthma this winter
One of the most important factors in managing your asthma this winter is to ensure you have an Asthma Action Plan written by your doctor. This will highlight the daily medications required, and what to do if your symptoms get worse. It is important to:
- Have an up-to-date Asthma Action Plan that is easy to access – if you don’t have one, it’s important to sit down with your doctor and discuss the best way to manage your symptoms
- Take any preventer medication prescribed by your doctor, even if feeling well
- Check your inhaler technique – proper use of inhalers is essential for medication to work properly. Each inhaler device comes with their own instructions.
- Stay at home and rest if you feel unwell
- Make sure you have access to enough medication to keep your asthma under control
Another way to manage your symptoms during winter is to limit your exposure to viruses. These could be triggers for symptoms and serious complications. You can do this through:
- Good hand hygiene – washing your hands thoroughly and regularly, especially after being in public
- Getting the recommended flu shot
- Practice social distancing and limitations to gatherings as recommended by the Department of Health
When should you seek further health care?
- If you are experiencing fever, cough, shortness of breath, or fatigue. Contact your doctor to discuss your symptoms so they can effectively treat your illness, and minimise your chances of experiencing serious symptoms and complications.