Arctic conditions have been forecast for the beginning of next week and officials have warned the elderly and those with health conditions take extra care.
It’s been forecast that temperatures during the day will struggle to get above freezing as bone-chilling winds sweep in from the Russian Arctic.
For people with asthma, the sudden change in weather can trigger symptoms.
But why does cold weather put you at increased risk of asthma symptoms and what can you do to avoid an attack?
Asthma is a common lung condition that causes occasional breathing difficulties.
The long-term inflammatory disease also makes people’s airways very sensitive, so much so, cold or damp air can enter the always and trigger them to go into spasm.
This can then cause asthma symptoms such as coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath and tightness in the chest.
There are other reasons why winter weather can also affect people with asthma.
Asthma UK says: “It’s near-impossible to avoid the cold and flu viruses that many people say make their asthma symptoms worse, although being vaccinated against flu each year can prevent you getting the most commons strain of flu virus.
“During cold, damp weather there are also more mould spores in the air, which can trigger asthma symptoms. And if you avoid going outside in the winter (as many people with asthma tell us they do), you may also be exposed to more indoor air pollutants like dust mite droppings and fumes from cooking or cleaning products.”
What can you do to help?
The asthma charity says managing your asthma well will avoid triggering symptoms.
It recommends the following:
- Take your medication exactly as prescribed and discussed with your GP or asthma nurse.
- Check with your GP or asthma nurse that you’re using your inhaler(s) correctly.
- Use a written asthma action plan and keep it where you can see it (on the fridge, for example). You can also take a photo of it on your phone so you can refer to it whenever you need it.
- Go for regular asthma reviews.
- Keep an eye on the weather forecast.
You can also:
Carry your reliever inhaler with you at all times and keep taking your regular preventer inhaler as prescribed by your doctor.
If you need to use your inhaler more often than usual, or use more puffs, speak to your doctor about reviewing your medication.
Keep warm and dry – wear gloves, a scarf and a hat, and carry an umbrella.
If sudden changes in temperature – like stepping from a warm house onto a cold street – trigger your symptoms, try wrapping a scarf loosely over your nose and mouth before you go out. This will help to warm up the air before you breathe it in.
Try breathing in through your nose instead of your mouth, as your nose is designed to warm the air as you breath it in.
Asthma UK recently warned asthmatics that they’re at risk of life-threatening asthma attacks as a consequence of influenza infection.