WHAT IS ASTHMA?
Asthma is a chronic condition of the lungs that inflames and narrows the airways. Occurring in both children and adults, it is often characterized by one of these four common symptoms: coughing, chest tightness, wheezing, or shortness of breath. The coughing caused by asthma can be either a dry cough or a mucus accompanied cough. It will often be worse at night or in the early morning. The term chest tightness refers to a sensation of squeezing or a heavy weight on your chest. Wheezing is the sound your breathing makes, commonly compared to a whistling or squeaking sound. Often it is worse when exhaling than when inhaling, and sometimes cannot be heard without a stethoscope. The shortness of breath symptom of asthma is just that – it feels like being out of breath or not being able to breathe as deeply as you want to.
WHAT CAUSES ASTHMA TO BE WORSE IN THE WINTER?
For many people, the colds, flu and typical chest infections that circulate during the colder months can trigger asthmatic symptoms. In addition, the chilly weather drives us indoors where mold, fireplace smoke, pet dander, dust, and even perfumes are more concentrated because the windows are closed. Not to mention the cold air itself – which when breathed in more rapidly (as when exercising outside), can trigger an asthma attack in both children and adults.
If you have been diagnosed with asthma, the best prevention for asthma symptoms or attacks is to follow your daily asthma medication plan, even when you’re not having symptoms. It’s like keeping your car well tuned so it runs optimally. This improves your lungs’ ability to respond to asthma triggers. AND always carry your “emergency” inhaler in case an asthma attack does occur – it could save your life!
If you think you may have asthma, but have not seen a doctor, allergists are physicians who specialize in the treatment of asthma and allergic disease and are trained to develop individualized care and treatment plans.