Asthma worsens in winter months

Asthma is the No. 1 reason children are admitted to Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, and winter in Wisconsin is a time when asthma sufferers have to be especially careful to prevent asthma attacks. Cold air can trigger asthma flare-ups.  Winter also can bring an increase in sinus infections and upper respiratory viral infections that trigger or worsen asthma.

Consider these tips to help prevent winter asthma attacks:

  • Dress warmly. Cover your nose and mouth with a scarf when outside. This helps to warm and moisten the air before it is breathed into the lungs.
  • Monitor air quality indoors. Avoid using wood stoves or fireplaces because they pollute the air.
  • Keep your body healthy. Get your annual flu shot and wash hands frequently. Be proactive in avoiding illness. Colds and other respiratory infections can lead to asthma flare-ups.
  • Be cautious of over-the-counter cold medications that may trigger a bad reaction or upset the success of your current asthma treatment program.
  • Always make sure you and/or your child have your medication before going outside.

Your physician is your best source for information if you have questions. Follow your physician’s plan for ongoing asthma care and management. Notify your doctor immediately if you or your child becomes sick during the season. Regardless of any precautions you take, make sure you are ready to handle an asthma episode before it occurs.

~ Michael C. Zacharisen, MD, allergist and immunologist at the Asthma, Allergy and Clinical Immunology Center at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin.