winter asthma

The clocks have gone back, the nights are drawing in, so now is the time to prepare for 'winter asthma' if you or someone in your family has asthma. You will be spending more time indoors, so there is a danger of added exposure to particle pollution such as house dust mite allergens, pet dander, and mould and mildew spores. Other triggers for winter asthma and allergy symptoms are carbon monoxide gas from heating devices, cigarette smoke, and fumes from paints and furniture. Outdoor air pollution might also be coming into your home and can cause winter asthma as well as other negative health effects.

The following tips may help you enjoy a winter free of asthma symptoms:

  • Check windows are free of condensation - damp conditions encourage mould and mildew
  • Check your home is leakproof - and that pipes are well-lagged against freezing (you don't want a damp house because of a burst pipe)
  • Have your boiler serviced
  • If you haven't already, why not ban smoking in your home? There's no harm in fixing a discreet 'No Smoking' sign to the front door
  • To limit dust mite allergens in your home, make sure to wash all bedding and clothes regularly with allergy and asthma friendly laundry detergent
  • If you have carpets make sure to clean them with allergy friendly carpet spray and powder, and have your carpets professionally cleaned every 6 month
  • Clean the air in your home (especially in the bedroom) with a powerful and effective HEPA air purifier
  • Soothe and protect your skin against allergens by using an eczema friendly moisturising cream.

Cold weather itself can also be a trigger for both winter asthma and eczema, as can sudden changes in the weather. So keep a close eye on the weather forecast. If your asthma is triggered by the cold, you could try to warm the air up before it enters your lungs by either breathing through your nose or wrapping a scarf around your nose and mouth. If you have eczema, make sure fibers in your winter clothes are not triggering a flare-up. If it is very cold, it's probably best to just stay indoors if you can.

Cold winter air tends to be drier. Your nasal passages and skin will be drier than usual and this may make you more sensitive to triggers. Therefore, use your moisturiser more often than usual and drink plenty of water!

If you suffer with asthma, you know how important it is to avoid colds, flu and chest infections. According to Asthma UK, colds and flu are a trigger for as many as 90% of people suffering with asthma. A high-quality HEPA air purifier will take bacteria and viruses out of the air in your home and prevent you from getting sick and spreading airborne infections. Also, build up your immunity to winter bugs with a diet rich in fruits and vegetables and perhaps take a multivitamin supplement or extra vitamin C. Some people swear by the herbal remedy echinacea for preventing colds. However, the European Medicines Agency says it should only be used by people over 12 and not during pregnancy or lactation. It should not be taken for more than 10 days at a time. Meanwhile, your doctor or asthma nurse has probably advised a flu jab. It is best to get this in the autumn before the flu virus starts to circulate in earnest.