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While many people with asthma have a hard time in the Spring and Fall, winter is my personal bad season for breathing. Living in central Canada (and the coldest city with a population of over 10,000 people!), I have a bit of experience managing asthma triggered by cold air in the wintery months. And I know I’m not the only one!
Why does winter make asthma worse?
For many people with asthma, their symptoms are triggered by cold air. Your lungs need the right amount of moisture inside them to keep working well—because cold air is dry, it makes this moisture evaporate more quickly, and can cause your lungs to get increasingly irritated.  This exposure to cold also stimulates your airways to produce histamine—yep the very same stuff that causes allergic reactions, thus triggering an increase in asthma symptoms. 
Fun fact: Sometimes, when testing a person for asthma, doctors will order what is called a bronchoprovocation test. These tests can be done with different chemicals, like histamine or methacholine, but sometimes they are done by having you breathe in cold air, to see how your lungs respond!
As well, being indoors more in the winter leads to greater chances of getting a cold or the flu—it has nothing to do with the cold weather itself, other than it keeping you inside. Look, if I caught a cold every time I was outdoors in the cold too long, I’d be sick from November to April—the cold does not cause a cold, a virus does! For people who have asthma, viruses like colds often make breathing worse, so it’s important to wash your hands regularly all year round—and more-so in wintertime!
What you can do about cold air induced asthma
I started off by covering my mouth and nose with a regular scarf (mine were fleece). This helps to warm the air up before it reaches your lungs, and it does help a lot, even if you look sort of ridiculous. I now have a special face mask meant for winter and cold weather sports, that I use even when just walking to the bus stop on really cold days. It looks a bit funny, but it works extremely well to keep me breathing easy!
If you are going to be exercising outdoors or spend a lot of time outside, and the cold weather triggers your asthma, it can be a good idea to talk with your doctor about using your rescue inhaler before you go outside. As always, never change how you treat any medical conditions without speaking with your doctor first.
If you have asthma, wearing a medical ID bracelet for asthma is important in helping to accurately assess and diagnose any emergency medical problems quickly. Check out our selection of asthma necklaces and bracelets.
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