How Cold Weather Causes Trouble For Your Respiratory System

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For many people, monitoring the weather forecast dictates whether or not they should pack an umbrella, or whether it will be pleasant enough for the beach. However, for those with a lung disease, monitoring the forecast and preparing accordingly can help avoid unwanted symptoms.

This is especially true of cold weather. As winter sets in and the temperature drops, typically, the air becomes drier. And for people with asthma, COPD, or bronchitis this dry air means throat irritation, wheezing, coughing, and shortness of breath. Cold weather and respiratory disorders are linked for a few reasons. Let’s look at what those are and how to deal with them.

Why Does Cold Air Irritate Respiratory Disorders?

It all comes back to dry air. Naturally, our airways are lined with a thin layer of fluid, and when we inhale dry air that fluid evaporates quicker than normal. In some cases, the fluid evaporates faster than it can be replaced. This causes the throat to become dry, and a dry throat leads to irritation and swelling which worsens the symptoms of COPD and asthma.

Cold weather also increases mucus production. Mucus is the protective layer of the throat, however, the mucus produced in cold conditions is thicker and stickier than normal. This can cause blockages in the respiratory system and also increases your likelihood of catching a cold or other infections.

Tips For Dealing With Cold Weather

There are certain ways to help cope with the cold, dry air that winter brings. For people with respiratory problems, it may be wise to take extra precautions during these months to avoid an onset of symptoms. Let’s look at a few precautions:

  • Take all medication as prescribed: If you have a respiratory condition, then it is wise to do this always. But in the cold months, it could pay off to be doubly aware of your medication and treatment regiment.

  • Cover your nose and mouth with a scarf: Wrapping a scarf around your nose and mouth warms the air before it gets to the lungs. This can help prevent the symptoms associated with cold, dry air.

  • Breathe in through your nose and out from your mouth: Your nose has blood vessels that warm and humidify the air before it gets to your lungs. Increased mouth inhalation brings the irritating cold, dry air straight to your lungs.

  • Avoid outdoor exercise in the cold: If you suffer from respiratory problems, then outdoor exercise in severe cold weather can really hurt your lungs. As your breathing and heart rate increase during strenuous exercise, people tend to inhale through their mouth, which brings on irritation and swelling.

  • Keep quick-relief medication on hand: If you begin to display respiratory symptoms, it can be very helpful to have quick-relief medicine nearby and accessible.

  • Monitor the forecast: Being prepared is a great way to prevent respiratory symptoms. Make sure you dress weather appropriate. Carry a scarf if you need to. If you get cold then your immune system slows down and makes you more susceptible to lung infections.

Treatment Options

To learn more about how to treat respiratory disorders such as asthma, COPD, bronchitis, lung infections, and pulmonary hypertension you can visit The Pulmonary Associates of Brandon. They can help you diagnose and treat your condition. They offer a full line of diagnostic and treatment procedures from pulmonary function tests to hyperbaric oxygen therapy.