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Beware of the Cold Air: The Effect of Winter on Asthma Bronchitis Patients

Around 60% of asthmatic patients experience severe discomfort during the winter months. Do you also experience asthma flare-ups throughout the winter months? Here's everything you need to know about controlling your asthma during the cold winter.


Why is asthma more severe during the winter?


Asthma is a serious non-communicable disease (NCD) that also affects children and adults. It is the most prevalent chronic lung condition among children (ref). The disease causes the airways to expand and narrow and produce excess mucus, making breathing extremely difficult.


With the change in seasons, asthmatics have to adjust to the changing temperatures, the new irritations found in the air, and the increased risk of respiratory infections and asthmatic cough.


When an already fragile respiratory tract becomes exposed to frigid, cold air, in addition to exposure to triggers that are typical to winter, it could cause airway muscles to spasm as it tries to open the airways. This process of opposing pressures within the lungs may trigger asthma-related symptoms that are more severe such as wheezing, coughing, breathing problems, and chest tightness, and can also trigger an asthmatic attack.


This mix of factors aggravates existing conditions such as asthma. However, it may result in newer forms of asthma triggered by weather, as breathing cold air can trigger the body to produce histamine in the airways. This can be the chemical your body releases during an allergic asthmatic attack.


Causes of asthmatic severeness during winters


It's not easy to control your air quality, given that variations in indoor and outdoor environments can vary according to the season. In winter, there are several asthma triggers, including cold air as the most frequent trigger for asthmatics. Exposure to these triggers may result in asthmatic bronchitis, where severe inflammation of the lungs is associated with bronchospasms (i.e. the sudden and rapid closing of airways).


Alongside cold weather, other foreign agents in winter can include pollen, mold dampness, and dust mites to the exposure to chest infections and common flu and cold viruses.


Seasonal flu, a regular occurrence during winter, is among the main cause of worsened asthmatic cough symptoms and flare-ups. Asthmatics exposed to flu and cold virus are at more risk of an asthmatic attack and other pneumonia. Therefore, it is essential to be aware and recognize the causes and symptoms that could worsen asthma and report them to your doctor as soon as possible.


Symptoms of asthmatic worsening during winter


The signs and symptoms of asthma may differ between patients, but some common signs experienced during winter are

  • Shortness of breath, discomfort in the chest
  • Chest tightness
  • Wheezing or coughing
  • Nasal congestion
  • Cough and runny noses
  • Sore throat
  • Thickening of mucus when exposed to cold weather.
  • Flu-like illnesses


Anyone experiencing any of these symptoms or triggers must immediately seek medical care. However, an asthmatic patient must always take protective measures in winter to stay safe.


How to treat asthma during winter?



One of the most common ways to treat asthma during winter is with inhalers. Here is how inhalers help asthmatic patients in winter:


  • Inhalers treat asthma and reduce the severity of asthma symptoms effectively.


  • Inhalers help distribute the medication directly to the lungs, allowing the airways to relax and allowing the person to breathe more easily.


  • Small doses of medication directly to the nasals reduce the chance of adverse consequences.


  • Inhalers and similar devices can help manage asthma symptoms by preventing them and providing immediate relief, thus reducing asthma flare-ups and the risk of asthmatic attacks.


Inhalers are safe for everyone, provided they take as per your doctor's instructions. Children prefer using a spacer device and an inhaler.



Assuring that you detect and avoid possible triggers is the initial step to preventing them, and making an action plan you can implement in conjunction with your physician is crucial.

Most often, this plan of treatment comprises a mix of medications –


  • Medicines for instant relief:

They administer short-term relief during an acute asthmatic cough or asthmatic attack.


  • Maintenance medications:

They are prescribed daily to ensure long-term management of your asthmatic attack.


It is important to follow the prescribed treatment program by your physician, and keeping the doctor aware of any changes regarding your health is of the utmost importance.


Preventive measures for asthmatic during winter:


  • In the winter, it is best to remain indoors, especially when temperatures drop dramatically, e.g. late evenings or early mornings.
  • The annual flu vaccine and routine vaccinations for pneumococcal infections decrease the chance of breathing tract infections.
  • Consume more warm fluids because the cold, dry air can dry out the airways, causing excessive mucus production because of inflammation; warming fluids may aid in removing the mucus and help lubricate the airways.
  • A mask can help to block dry and cold air from coming into close contact with your airways.
  • Maintain the cleanliness of your home Vacuum and clean the house regularly to eliminate allergens
  • A healthy diet can have a major impact on asthma. A diet that is rich in Vitamin D, as well as C, could aid in reducing symptoms of asthma in winter.
  • Eating ginger and garlic in winter is vital for asthma patients since both possess anti-inflammatory properties.





Since asthma is a disease mostly triggered during the winter months, it is crucial to keep a check on older patients and children prominently. Keeping your hygiene, diet, and daily activity in check are the most simple and effective methods to avoid an asthmatic attack. However, a person who has asthma for a longer period should have regular checks at Medanta for better instruction and health maintenance during the winter months.

Medanta Medical Team
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