It’s freezing cold outside, the grass is dead and there’s not a flower in bloom. Why in the world is your child having an asthma event?
For many children and adults, asthma attacks can be caused by many factors other than pollen. Studies show that hospital admissions for asthma attacks actually peak in the winter months. With careful management, you can help your child avoid these attacks.
What can cause asthma events in the winter?
Inhaling the outdoor cold, dry air evaporates the natural fluid in your child’s lungs, irritating and swelling airways. The cold also causes your child’s lungs to create histamine, which in turn causes wheezing.
Because your child is indoors more often, other irritants become more, well, irritating. Pet dander, indoor mold, dust mites, perfumes and colognes, cigarette smoke, and smoke and ash from the fireplace can all trigger an asthma attack.
Exercise Induced Asthma (EIA), or wheezing, coughing or shortness of breath 5 to 10 minutes after your child starts running, climbing stairs or doing other aerobic exercise, will worsen with cold, dry air.
Respiratory infections such as influenza and bronchitis, more commonly contracted in the winter months, aggravate asthma symptoms as well.
What can I do to prepare for cold weather asthma events?
If your child hasn’t been seen by an Alzein Pediatric Associates medical professional lately, make an appointment now. We’ll check medications and update action plans if necessary, perhaps including long term daily medicine along with quick-relief prescriptions.
How can I prevent these attacks?
Cover your child’s face when out of doors. A scarf wrapped over the nose and mouth, or a pull down ski mask will help warm the air your child breathes in, and will help her lungs retain moisture. Wash these items regularly. When temperatures dip below freezing (32˚), try to keep your child indoors as much as possible.
Keep pets out of your child’s bedroom. Keeping dander to an absolute minimum where your child sleeps will make a significant difference in their asthma symptoms. Run exhaust fans in the bathrooms and kitchen, reducing mold and dust mites. Use mite-proof covers on mattresses, pillows and box springs. Empty your fireplace thoroughly of all ash and keep the fireplace dark.
At your child’s appointment with Alzein Pediatric’s, we can explain pretreatment options for EIA, including using a quick-relief inhaler. We’ll also talk about which sports has less impact on EIA and which ones cause more flare-ups.
Make sure your child has had a flu shot this season. The flu is a respiratory illness, so protecting your child from the flu also helps protect her from an asthma attack.
To make an appointment with your Alzein Pediatric Associates medical professional, or for answers to your questions, call 708-424-7600 or click the yellow “Book An Appointment” button at left.
We are always here to help!