(BPT) – For the 25 million Americans who have asthma, wintry weather can take a real bite out of holiday fun. Cold weather is a common asthma trigger, especially for severe symptoms, and for many people, asthma attacks happen more often in the winter. That’s because winter means more time spent indoors, with exposure to indoor triggers like pet dander and smoke. Once outside, simply breathing the cold air can trigger an asthma attack.
Getting your asthma management routine on track can keep symptoms from derailing the best laid holiday plans. To avoid missing out on the fun, it’s a good idea to set asthma goals — things that you want to accomplish without your asthma symptoms getting in the way, such as “Have a snowball fight with the kids without getting short of breath,” or “Go one week without needing my quick-relief inhaler.”
Downloading the Asthma Self-Care Kit, available at www.asthma.com, can help get you started. The kit includes information on how to work with your doctor to set your personal asthma goals, along with tips and resources for asthma self-care, a guide to help you talk to your doctor and a journal to track peak flow, symptoms and sleep habits.
But you don’t have to go it alone. Managing asthma is a team effort, so don’t be afraid to enlist your “asthma squad” — a group of friends, family and caregivers who can help you meet your asthma goals. You can tag your #asthmasquad and share your #asthmagoals on Twitter for additional support.
It is important to partner with your doctor to come up with a plan to manage your condition, and there are several simple things you can do this winter to keep your asthma symptoms in check indoors and out.
Tips for managing your asthma at home and beating the chill
If your asthma is triggered by allergens or environmental irritants, you may be affected by one or more of the triggers below. It’s very important to reduce these triggers at home, at work, and everywhere you can.
* If possible, do not use a wood- burning stove, kerosene heater, or fireplace to avoid strong odors or chemicals in the air.
* Try to avoid irritating sprays, such hair spray or indoor air fresheners.
* Ask your family members to limit their use of perfumed products.
* If you have asthma and you smoke, the best thing you can do is quit, and ask people not to smoke around you.
* If your symptoms get worse around your pet, vacuum often, don’t allow pets in your bedroom and bathe your dog or cat weekly to reduce pet dander (skin flakes that animals shed).
You can’t change the weather, but…
There are strategies to help you manage your asthma when the temperature drops:
* Plan activities outside when you’ll have the least exposure to your triggers.
* Keep an eye on the weather and monitor your condition by tracking the weather on the days symptoms occur.
* Cover your nose and mouth with a scarf when you’re outdoors on cold or windy days.
Take your asthma medication
It’s important to take your medication as prescribed, even if you’re not experiencing symptoms. Some helpful ways to remember include:
* Establishing a routine that works for you.
* Setting an alarm or reminder on your cell phone or computer calendar.
* Signing up for a free, online medication reminder service.
For more tips, tools and ideas for managing your asthma and to download your free Asthma Self-Care Kit, visit www.asthma.com.
Disclaimer: Asthma.com and the Asthma Self-Care Kit are property of GlaxoSmithKline and are available at no cost.