(GoHealthier.com) – The cold winter air can make chronic breathing problems feel even worse than usual. Those of us who suffer from asthma, chronic bronchitis or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) know all too well the signs of cold air irritation, including wheezing, shortness of breath and coughing.
There are several steps sufferers can take to keep their symptoms to a minimum. Consider the following seven tips.
1. Breathe In Through Your Nose in the Cold
Cold, dry air can irritate the lungs, causing a temporary narrowing of the airways and increasing mucus production. As a result, people with lung issues may find breathing more difficult while out in the cold. Breathing in through the nose can help warm the air a little before it reaches the lungs, reducing the chances of an asthma or COPD attack.
2. Cover Your Face When Necessary
A scarf or similar covering over the nose and mouth can go a long way toward warming the face and buffering the outside cold. Anything that can reduce the cold air’s shock will do; just make sure the material is breathable and doesn’t have any perfumes or other potential irritants on it. In a pinch, even a light-weight face mask might be better than nothing.
3. Control Indoor Temperatures
Because air temperature is so important, keeping it comfortable indoors is vital to keeping winter lung issues under control. Aim to keep temperatures above 64 degrees Fahrenheit at all times. Activities like baking and making soup can help warm the home while feeding the body and soul.
4. Stay Inside as Much as Possible
We can’t control the weather, but we can minimize our exposure to it. Try to keep time out in the elements to a minimum. If possible, go out when the weather is forecasted to be at its least severe.
5. Keep Your Home Humidified
Winter weather and low humidity often go hand in hand. Run a humidifier to keep air moisture levels between 30% and 50% for the most comfortable breathing. Make sure to clean and maintain humidifiers regularly to avoid introducing mold spores and other potentially irritating contaminants.
Feeling especially congested? Breathe in steam from a shower or pot of hot water to get those passages relaxed and opened.
6. Run an Air Purifier
Especially for people with lung issues, the cleaner the air, the easier it usually is to breathe. Air purifiers, or portable air cleaners, can dramatically reduce the number of pollutants in the air, according to the EPA. Additionally, people with central heating and air conditioning systems may upgrade their units to improve filtration capabilities. Even using a better filter can help; just make sure the rating is compatible with the system.
7. Take All Medications as Prescribed
Overall, symptoms are easier to manage when asthma, bronchitis and COPD are well controlled. Inhalers and inhaled corticosteroid medications are an essential part of keeping attacks to a minimum. Make sure not to skip out on them — and keep an inhaler handy at all times, just in case.
Winter isn’t always kind, especially when it comes to our lungs. Stay ahead of the cold, dry air by being prepared. Attacks aren’t always avoidable, but we can minimize them by taking the right steps. Here’s to breathing easier!
~Here’s to a Healthier Life!
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