What is Cold Weather Asthma?

January 06, 2014
by Michael Barber
What is Cold Weather Asthma?

Cold weather can increase symptoms in asthmatics. Typically known as cold weather asthma, winter asthma triggers can be avoided if you know what to look for.

Related: 6 Tips for Running in the Winter

Indoor Triggers

One of the winter asthma triggers is being inside more. Indoor allergies such as mold, pet dander, and dust mites can trigger an asthma attack. In the winter, you're likely to be indoors more, breathing in these substances. To help your symptoms, spend time away from your pets, cover your bedding with mite-proof covers and regularly wash carpets, rugs, and upholstery.


When it's damp, dust mites and mold grow faster. Heaters and humidifiers in the home increase the warmth and humidity, which contribute to these indoor allergens. Keep your home dry to avoid them. Use the fan in your bathroom when taking a bath or shower, turn on the exhaust fan in the kitchen when cooking, and fix leaky windows and pipes. Try to avoid using humidifiers, if someone in your home needs one, keep it in a room you don't use.


Winter also means using the fireplace, which can also trigger your asthma because smoke can make breathing difficult. When you're outside, the mix of chimney smoke with the cold weather can aggravate it more. To help your symptoms, avoid using the fireplace, and opt for other heating options. If you have to use your fireplace or wood-burning stove to heat your home, keep the ducts and flues clean and well ventilated. Avoid going outside when others are using their fireplaces, especially when it's windy.

Related: Fire Safety Is So Hot Right Now

Cold Air

The cold air itself can trigger your asthma. To avoid asthma attacks from the cold air, wear a scarf over your mouth and nose, be strict with your medication regiment, and keep your inhaler with you at all times. A special mask containing heat exchangers can also be helpful. They keep lung function from declining in the cold air.


Viruses are one of the main culprits to trigger your asthma. Sinusitis in particular can trigger an attack, especially in children. Other illnesses that trigger your symptoms are tonsillitis, pharyngitis, laryngitis, and pneumonia. Watch out for the following symptoms: nasal congestion, runny now, sore throat, sneezing, colorful sputum, and coughing. If you experience any of these symptoms, visit your nearest urgent care immediately. You should also get a flu shot, and stay away from people who are sick. Wash your hands regularly and use hand sanitizer to help avoid spreading germs.

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Avoid exercising outdoors. Exercising itself can be an asthma trigger, but when mixed with cold winter air, it can trigger them more. Avoid ice skating and sledding, and opt for indoor exercises instead, such as walking on a treadmill or using an exercise bike. Move your workout to the gym in the winter. You can walk laps around the mall or even jog around the mall if you go early enough, when there aren't as many shoppers.

These cold weather triggers can aggravate your asthma. Avoid them, and you'll feel better this winter.