During these winter months, people with asthma become very concerned about asthma attacks. Cold, dry air can bring on an asthmatic episode. When combined with exercise, the two become a “double whammy”. Cold air as well as exercise can cause bronchoconstriction, which is when airways narrow, causing breathing to become difficult. Hence, people with asthma have to be more careful during any type of outdoor activity.
Asthma is a chronic lung disease affecting almost 19 million American adults. Ten percent of the general population suffer from exercise induced asthma. Hence, the burden of this disease and the impact of morbidity and mortality is significantly high during the cold months. However, ten percent of Olympic athletes have asthma, so asthma doesn’t stop individuals from high functionality.
Asthma can be controlled with proper diagnosis and management by a board certified allergy physician. Allergists follow National Asthma Education and Prevention Program guidelines to diagnose and treat these conditions. These guidelines include using inhaled corticosteroids, assessing the severity of your asthma to determine what types of treatment are needed, developing and using a written asthma action plan, making regular follow-up appointments with your physician/allergist and trying to control environmental triggers. Allergists can perform a skin scratch test to detect true environmental sensitivities that might be responsible for your asthma attacks. They can then guide you with lifestyle changes to control your asthma better and avoid asthma flare. Some triggers are easy to control, such as smoking, while others — for example, dust in work spaces — might be a little tougher to manage. You deserve to enjoy winters and participate in outdoor activity with no concern of asthma. A board certified allergist at The Allergy Group can help.