When the scorching summer temperatures start to subside, it seems like everyone wants to be outside. Picnics in the park, drinks on the terrace, morning jogging, it’s so pleasant! But as those early fall days give way to cool or even brutally cold temperatures, you might face another hurdle in spending time outdoors, especially during your workouts. These biting winds can be hard on your lungs! In fact, cold air can trigger asthma in prone people.
Why does cold air make asthma worse?
You would think that cooler weather would make it easier to breathe, and sometimes it can, but it also brings its own challenges. “Cold air can trigger asthma,” Ratika Gupta, MD, a New York-based physician who is board certified in internal medicine and allergy / immunology, and author of What? Could I be allergic to this ?!, said POPSUGAR.
“The nose and mouth warm the air before the air reaches the lungs. In the presence of cold air, it is more difficult for the body to warm the air,” explained Dr Gupta. “Inhaling cold air can damage the lining of the airways, exposing the nerves. These nerves then cause the airways to become overactive,” which can lead to spasms.
Training in the cold can be particularly difficult for asthmatics, because “exposure to cold air can also increase the number of inflammatory cells in the airways,” Dr Gupta said, causing airway obstruction. . “In addition, cold air can decrease the activity of the eyelashes, which are hair-like structures that help remove pollutants.” Pollutants are never good news for the lungs.
However, it all depends on the person. “For people for whom the cold can trigger asthma, outdoor activities can be more difficult when it’s cold outside, but fine otherwise,” said Marc Goldstein, MD, FAAAAI, FACAAI, director of the Center of Philadelphia Asthma and Chief Medical Advisor at Curist. POPSUGAR. “Likewise for people with pollen allergies, the prevalence of pollen can really have an impact on a person’s ability to be active outdoors. This can be made worse by the fact that the exercise itself can trigger it. asthma, both outside and inside. ” In other words, you need to know your triggers so that you can take steps to exercise safely all year round.
How can people with asthma better manage their symptoms?
You can’t just avoid the outdoors during the colder temperatures (no matter how tempting hot tea by the fireside looks!), So it’s important to learn to recognize asthma triggers and manage. your symptoms. Dr Goldstein recommends wearing a scarf over your nose and mouth to reduce the amount of cold air you inhale while you are outside and working with your doctor to determine a treatment plan that will help you control your symptoms, including during your workouts.
Dr Gupta also suggests seeing your allergist, who may recommend, among other measures, the use of an inhaler, “which helps decrease spasm of the bronchi.” She added that air conditioning can have a similar impact on your lungs and cold polluted air can increase respiratory symptoms, so it’s important to always be prepared. Stay proactive by wearing your inhaler, limiting exercise to cooler temperatures if it seems to be affecting your lungs, and discussing your specific concerns with your doctor. With a few precautions, you will be able to navigate whatever the prognosis.