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Asthma affects a lot of people and can be set off by even the smallest triggers. People with the chronic condition usually avoid the triggers to avoid any flare-ups. But one particular trigger that they can’t avoid is the drop in temperature when cold seasons start. This is even more pronounced during the winter where temperatures drop to freezing, leading asthmatic people to find ways to combat congestion during winter.
Why Asthma Can Be Triggered in Winter
Typically, our respiratory system functions well when the weather conditions are just right. If we have fresh air circulating in our air passages, which isn’t too cold or too warm, the organs work normally. But if we have extreme weather conditions or are in places that have poor air quality, those organs have to work hard.
Asthma is triggered more often during winter primarily because of the cold, dry air. The winter air that we breathe in dries out the mucous membranes that coat the air passages.
This thin sticky fluid keeps the airways clean by trapping the dirt that comes in. And it’s the mucous membranes that warm the air that goes into our lungs.
Cold air dries out the mucous faster, so our air passages gets irritated because of the build-up of dirt. When this happens, our air passages go into overdrive to produce more mucous. So the symptoms that we see during asthma attacks like wheezing, nasal congestion, and difficulty in breathing are signs that the body isn’t able to cope properly to the external environment.
How to Combat Congestion During Winter
1. Build up your immune system
Prevention has always been better than looking for a cure. We don’t need to combat congestion during winter at all if we are able to prevent it from happening.
If you have asthma, you are very vulnerable to respiratory diseases which can cause congestion. It’s because your lungs and air passages have become weakened or more sensitive.
So before the temperatures drop, it would be best if you build up your immune system. Drink vitamins and eat healthy so your body has the necessary nutrients to build up immunity.
2. Avoid your known triggers
Another good way to combat congestion is to avoid your asthma triggers. If you are allergic to certain food that causes inflammation, then it would be best to avoid it. Also wear a face mask when you are walking outside, so the air that you breathe in gets warmed up a bit before entering your lungs.
Wearing a face mask indoors is also okay because the indoor air is too humid and isn’t circulating properly. There are more allergens like moulds, pet hair, and dust that circulate in an enclosed space than outside during winter.
3. Get enough sleep
Sleep boosts your body’s ability to fight off viruses and other germs. It’s because getting enough sleep gives the body the chance to repair itself and reduce internal inflammation. The body can better regulate itself when there’s enough sleep.
You can cope with stress better and managing weight is also easier. Heavier people have a hard time breathing because of the effort to carry their weight, so it is more taxing to the lungs. You are more prone to respiratory diseases if you have overworked lungs.
4. Hydrate and drink warm or hot teas
When your air passages are congested, your body tends to expel the mucous that has built up. You need to drink more fluids in order to help your body keep up with the mucous production.
Drinking warm teas help raise your internal temperature. They also keep your body warm aside from the added fluids. The hot citrus and ginger teas also give extra support of vitamin C and gingerol to your immune system.
Drink plenty of water too for hydration and other benefits.
If you nasal passages or lungs are already congested, you can go for steam inhalation as a way to manage your condition. Just boil water and some herbs that can help you decongest like ginger root, eucalyptus, and peppermint, and let it rest for a good two or three minutes.
Make sure that you can stand the steam that’s rising from the surface before you place your face over it. Cover your head with a towel or small blanket as you do this, so only a little steam escapes.
It is common for people with asthma to have inhalers to help manage sudden attacks. Make sure that you have inhalers handy when you are going out to provide emergency relief. You should also manage your medications when the winter season starts and talk to your doctor if you need help.
Be careful in using decongestants and antihistamines that are in these medications because they might react adversely to other drugs that you might be taking.
***note this is not supposed to be medical advice. As an asthma sufferer this is based solely on my own experience. If you struggle with asthma you should get help from your doctor first and foremost.